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L I B RAR.Y 

OF THE 

UNIVERSITY 

or ILLINOIS 

S2S 



THE LONG LANE 



ETHEL COXON 



ALTHOB OK A HASIL rLANT" 'MONHUiUU LOVK.' BTX. 



Our ucUj uur uu^cls are, or goud or ill, 
Our fatal shadows that walk hv us »till ' 



IN TWO VOLUMES 

VOL. II. 




LONDON 
KICUAKD BENTLEY *fc SON, NEW BURLINGTON JSTUEET 

jJublishtrs in cJrbinurn ia ^tt illiijtsln t^t Pjuttn 

1 ^>^r, 



All ritjhn rtt«rtfil 



FEINTED BY 

SrOlTlSWOODE AND CO., NEW-STBEET SQUARE 

LONDON 



%%3 



THE LONG LANE. 



CHAPTER XIX. 

Nobody has ever beeu able to change to-day into to- 
morrow — or into yesterday; and yet everybody who has 
much energy of character is trying to do one or the other. 

Julius Hare. 

Meanwhile Honor had stepped out into 
the open air ; the summer breeze touched 
her forehead sweetly and gently, and re- 
freshed her. Slie walked a Uttle way, then, 
haiUng a fiacre, told tlie nian to drive her 
to the station, wliere her old travellintr 
experiences with Agnes made her know she 
w^ould catch the evening train for Dieppe. 
VOL. n. B 



2 THE LONG LANE 

She ignored the mail train for Folkestone, 
which would have been her quicker and 
more obvious route. 

In a few minutes she was at the station. 
The rush and hurry and crowd of pas- 
sengers towards the platform told her she 
had no time to lose, and in another minute 
or two she was seated in a carriage, and 
the train was slowly moving out of the 
station, its speed quickening as it left 
behind it the great glaring city, the crowds 
and light and colour, which had all ap- 
peared as the jumbled-up hues of a shaken 
kaleidoscope to Honor during these pa.^t 
few days. 

The past was as a dream, from which 
she had awakened to find herself speeding 
along in this rushing, swaying ti-ain, flying 
past the flower-sown fields, of which the 



THE LONG LANE O 

freshness and sweetness were borne in 
through the open window with the wild 
night air. 

So Honor leant back in her seat, hei' 
eyes fixed where the rising moon glowed 
with an angry fire, low down behind the 
far- stretching sea of tall grasses, and tiieii 
grew pure and fair, as she rose above the 
earth and the cloud banks, and looked 
down cold and sweet and serene on tlie 
land dreaming in her light, on the noisy 
train, with the long trail of glare cast fi-oni 
its windows over the meadows pale in her 
softer shine, and on the wild hunted coinitt^- 
nance of the woman, on whom was slowly 
growhig the meaning of her act of fliglit. 

The meaning to herself, that is ; <lie 
was still too ignorant of the world in 
many ways to know how the larger j)art 

ii 2 



4 THE LONG LAXE 

of tlie world, and probably her husband, 
would mterpret her madness. 

She had brought her misery on herself; 
that she owned freely. If any bitter re- 
sentment against Agnes stirred in her heart, 
she yet knew that her fate had been in her 
own hand. Instead of possessing her soul 
in patience, she had recklessly, ignorantly 
marred and ruined its good. She could 
not retrieve all ; she could never again be 
Honor Denne, whom a few years would 
have made queen o'er herself m act as well 
as thought — never again ! 

Such life as might yet be hers must 
feel to the end the galling shackle of a 
chain, albeit its links were broken, and hj 
her own hand. All she had lost by her 
deed, that which many women would have 
held dearly, the brightness and pleasure 



THE LONG LANE 

and admiring homage which the world 
gladly yields to a beautiful woman — these 
she cared little for — had indeed scarcely 
proved, despite her one brief season in 
London. 

She had one goal in view, which grew 
clearer before her as the train I'ushed on — 
Trebarva, where she would be quiet, and 
Mary's tender care would calm and soothe 
her. She could rest there, and, like a tired 
child, she needed nothing but rest. The 
thought of that haven, after the waves oi* 
tliis troublesome world, was enough, if not 
for happiness, for peace. Xo one would 
seek her there. Agnes had never heard 
the word Trebarva, unless Mr. Denne had 
carelessly mentioned it to her. She would 
never dream of Honor's finding refuge 
there. Would her husband discover her, 



() THE LONG LANE 

ai)d try to make her come back ? Her lips 
tightened, her eyes became hard, bright, 
defiant at the thought. No, not that, at 
least. 

She arrived in London, tired out, with 
a general pallor of face and black circles 
round her eyes, and with her past excite- 
ment burnt out. She had grown very 
practical during the last twenty-four hours' 
unaided travelhng, and had made up her 
mind to start for Cornwall by the next 
evening's train. The large hotel at which 
slie put up was dismal, and the people 
stared at her oddly — no wonder ; in her 
tumbled, draggled dress of soft, pale green 
silk, half hidden though it was by her loni:^ 
cloak. 

What should she do ? She remembered 
tliat her old dresses and other belongings, 



THE LONG LAXE 7 

superseded by the new finery of the trous- 
seau, had been packed in a trunk, and left, 
with most of her other smart, big, new 
boxes, at Bryanston Square, to await lier 
return. Her absence had been shorter 
than was expected ; she never wished to 
see again any of her fine clothes, the 
gathering together of which had been 
Agnes's chief occupation for six weeks 
before the wedding. But she could not go 
to Cornwall as entirely without resources 
as she was at present — she would go and 
fetch that box. 

The one servant left in charge of the 
house stared at her, as at a ghost, but 
Honor's quietude reassured her, and, with 
the aid of the cabman, she dragged the 
trunk downstairs. ' You've come back soon. 
Miss Honor ; ma'am, I mean,' said tlie liand- 



8 THE LONG LANE 

maiden, panting and breathless. 'Didn't 
you like Paris ? ' 

' No — tliank you, Elizabeth ; that is 
right. Good-bye.' 

Honor was rather astonished to find 
]iow easy it was to manage for herself, as 
a woman who lias never been taught self- 
reliance often is ; and when she had re- 
turned to the hotel, taken off her smart 
draggled gown and replaced it by a plain 
one of heather cloth, she felt ready to 
start. She had still that unreal sense of 
either being in a dream or having awa- 
kened from one ; there seemed so great a 
gulf fixed between this day and those in 
Paris whicli had led to it. 

She asked for her bill, paid it, and was 
met by the fact that, after so doing, Iier 
j)urse held but four or five pounds ; enough 



TIIK LOXc; LAXK 9 

to take lier down into Cornwall, but no 
nioiv, and a new idea startled her : what 
was she to do for money? 

She had the va;iuest notions on liu* 
subject of expenditure ; knew nothing of 
what riiiht she had over her own inconu*, 
or how to obtain ])ossession thereof. For 
all she knew, her husband niiLdit Imj en- 
titled to it all, now she had left him. At 
all events, she could not obtain any portion 
thereof, and neither could she be a burden 
on Mary — what should she do? 

The sudden «deam of a v\\]<i on her 
tiuL'er was like a whisper in her ear. 

The diamonds! They were her own; 
^Ir. Clay had said so, and that she could 
sell them, if she would. If she did so, 
then if Mary would have her, she could 
>tay at Trebarva for good. 



10 THE LONG LANE 

But she must make haste ; the after- 
noon was advancing, and the bank where 
they had been deposited would be shut. 

The manager received her courteously, 
asked her to wait in his room till the jewels 
were fetched from their safe-keeping below, 
and sat chatting to her, rather wondering 
at her abstracted manner and the absence 
of her husband. ' I suppose you are only 
passing through town ? Ah ! here are the 
cases.' 

' I don't want them all,' said Honor. 
They had been her mother's jewels, and 
though, personally, she cared little for 
them, an odd reluctance to part from them 
for ever woke within her. ' I will take the 
bracelets and this star. They will do ; 
thank you very much.' 

The words struck the manager ; he 



THE LONG LANE 11 

looked at her pale, overwrought face ; her 
husband's absence semed stranger than it had 
done before. 'Is there an3^thing wrong ? ' 
lie wondered, as slie signed the receipt lie 
liad written out for the jewels. Shall I 
suggest that she can draw on her separate 
account here ? No ; she may not wish to do 
that, and wouldn't thank me for seeming 
to know she wants money — the diamonds 
are her own after all. It's no business of 
mine. 

He saw Honor to the door and into a 
hansom, told the man to drive as she 
directed down Piccadilly, and then went 
back to his inner room. ' I suppose it's all 
right,' he said to himself, as for reassurance, 
' but tliere was something queer about lier 
look — Here, Jones, take these cases down 
to the safe.' 



12 THE LONG LANE 

Honor stopped at the jeweller's where 
her father and Agnes had always dealt. 
She would have preferred going to a 
stranger, had it not been for her dread, 
not so much of being cheated, as being 
questioned as to her name, or her posses- 
sion of the diamonds. 

The bland gentleman, called at her 
request from his sanctum at the back of 
the shop, was also somewhat surprised at 
lier appearance, as at her mission ; but 
l)rides wishing to raise money unknown to 
tlieir husbands and seizing that easiest 
means to the purpose — their jewellery— 
were not unusual facts in his experience. 
He offered to accommodate Honor by 
keeping her stones in pledge, but the 
young lady raised her cold, direct eyes and 
looked straight at him, in a disconcerting 



THE LONG LAXH 13 

fashion which ])revented liis pressing his 
friendly offer. ' I wisli to sell them,' she 
repeated. 'Will you tell nie the value?' 

' Or what we can afford to offer,' said 
Mr. Thornton, witji praiseworthy honesty ; 
' I must tell you frankly, madam, we 
cannot afford to give what should be the 
full value.' lie handed the jewels over 
to a subordinate to be tested within and 
weighed — then continued : 

' By the way, madam, here is our exe- 
cution of an order we received five davs 
ago from Sir Eobert Field, who is staying 
at Steerholt. I thought you would be 
interested in it.' 

Steerholt was the house in Scotland 
where Agnes was at present visiting, and Sir 
liobert Field was a bachelor of about tliirtv- 
seven or so ; not over-clever, but enor- 



14 THE LONG LANE 

mously rich, and much given, as Honor knew 
by experience, to dropping in to afternoon 
tea at Br^^anston Square, and usually in- 
cluded in Mrs. Denne's little dinners. 
Honor had understood he was very fond 
of Agnes, but the idea of her step-mother's 
marrying again had never crossed her 
mind till now, as Mr. Thornton handed, 
for her inspection, a wonderful ring with 
interlaced cipher of tiny diamonds and 
sapphires, and engraved inside : ' Agnes, 
July 28 ' — Honor's wedding day. 

' I saw the engagement in yesterday's 
" Post," ' said Mr. Thornton in his tone ol 
deferential congratulation. ' They always 
say, madam, one marriage makes many.' 

Honor did not reply. This news, so told, 
added to her bewilderment at the world. 
It was all changed and changing ; was she 



THE LONG LANE 15 

changed with it ? Her own face in the 
mirrors of the shop seemed strange, be- 
cause it was still that of tlie girl she had 
always known, while she herself felt so 
different. Slie, who since her father's 
second marriage had never been allowed 
even to choose a gown for herself, liad now 
severed herself from all alien control and 
must guide her own will. 

Mr. Thornton was called into consulta- 
tion over Honor's property, in the inner 
shop, and she stood awaiting his decision. 
Her nerves were too tenselv strung to 
allow her to sit quietly. Presently the 
jeweller returned and tendered her his offer 
for the diamonds — ] ,000/. 

That w^ould mean a suffiuent income 
for her for some years, if she were careful. 
bhe accepted it and drove back to the 



16 THE LONG LANE 

liotel with tlie bank-notes stuffed into the 
inner pocket of her double-breasted bodice. 
It was very strange to have so much money 
about her ; what should she do with it ? 
Never mind, she would ask Mary when she 
reached Cornwall. 

When she reached Cornwall ! The 
words worked themselves into a longing 
sigh. She was so tired, and everything 
was so strange. Agnes was going to 
marry again, and what would become of 
Lionel, the child whom his sister loved, 
w^ho loved her in his own sweet, childish, 
sturdy and wilful way ? Would his mother 
have other children and cease to care for 
him? 

Honor was roused from her wonderings 
by seeing flash past her, in another hansom 
burdened with portmanteaus, bundles of 



THE LONG LANE 17 

railway rugs and sticks, &c. — her husband ! 
There was a strange pain, she fancied, in 
his face, though he was looking the other 
way and did not see her. Was he unhappy 
for her? 

For an instant, a convicting self-re- 
proach seized her ; there had been, in the 
world, a duty she had by her own act 
singled out for hers and then cast from 
her, but which was not to be escaped by 
any sense of its bitterness, or by rebellion 
against it. Then came a revulsion of un- 
reasoning anger, a steeling of herself against 
thought or conscience, in an armour of 
her own wretchedness and self-will. So, 
he had pursued her ! But even if he foujid 
her, she had chosen her own patli now, and 
would walk therein to the end. 

VOL. II. 



18 THE LOXG LAJtE' 



CHAPTEE XX. 

open thine heart wide, 
And fold within the wet wings of thy dove. 

Mrs. Browning. 

And the next morning, after a feverish 
night's travelHng, Honor felt yet more 
keenly as though she had awakened in a 
new world and had left the past behind her. 
All around her, as the train sped on, were 
the mystery and greenness of the deep oak 
woods, silent in the morning freshness, 
great heights of thick-leaved trees with the 
morning mists still wreathing soft and grey 
about them, and the clear light touching 
now the hill-tops and now the valleys from 
greenness into gold. 



THE LONG LAXE l!» 

Above was the blue of the sky, and 
presently tlie oak woods broke, and in tlie 
distance tlie sea sparkled and shone in a 
deeper glory of blue ; till, in the beauty of 
tliis, her new world, Honor forgot all else 
for a little while. 

Anotlier two hours' travelhng and she 
found herself in the parlour of an inn at 
Polmouth, waiting for any vehicle which 
could be found to convey her over the 
twenty miles of moorland which still lay 
between her and Trebarva. She was look- 
ing on the quiet rich loveliness wherein 
two centuries ago another woman found 
comfort — a sweet-natured, sensitive girl, 
whose fniely touched sj)irit was wearing out 
life beside the dissipated boor of a Cornish 
s(|uire, whom she liad been bullied into 



20 THE LONG LANE 

Honor knew nothing of that brave and 
gentle soul ; nothing of Mary Pendarves' 
long bitterness of endurance, long struggle 
of wifely duty ; nor, indeed, would she in 
her fierce defiance, which was yet so 
piteous, have had sympathy with the 
earlier woman, or understood the noble 
patience which supported Mrs. Pendarves 
when she looked out on the glittering 
waves of that bay where the river met 
the sea, longing either for fuller life or 
for death ; as La Pia may have longed 
in her prison among the Tuscan marshes. 

It was some hours before a carriage 
could be obtained for Honor's long drive ; 
and when, at length, she was mounted in 
the shaky old phaeton, which proved her 
lot, and the woods and rivers of Polmouth 
were left behind, she began to realise 



THE LONG LAXR 21 

Mary's stories of the wildness and barren- 
ness of the land between tliat town and 
Trebarva. 

It was a sad landscape, even in its 
stern, lonely beauty ; those long wastes of 
stony moor, where the sheep nibbled tlie 
wild dry turf, and the heather fluslied a 
sudden vivid glory here and tliere ; those 
distant gleams of sea, stained and patched 
and flecked with all changing lights and 
sliades of green and blue ; those glimpses 
of little bays with cool white stretches of 
sand, beyond the pale glassy azure of the 
thick tracts of sea-holly — but if Mary Eoss 
liad lived here contentedly, slie could do so 
too. 

' It's a lonesome place, Trebarva, miss,' 
said the driver, turning affably round and 
breaking in on lier dreams. 



22 THE LONG LANE 

•■ Is it?' she answered, ' more lonely than 
this ? ' looking round on the apparently 
unending expanse of moor and the scat- 
tered grey rocks upbreaking through the 
dry turf. 

' No,' said the man, as considering ; 
' I'll not say that ; but you see it's out of 
tlie beat, and even in the summer there's 
not a many visitors that way ; the parts 
tliey likes best are on the other side of the 
coast. There'll be a few ladies and gentle- 
men at Lynion for a day or two in the 
summer; but Trebarva's all by itself ; and 
the lady you're going to, she doesn't see 
anyone except the clergyman now and 
tlien and the fishing folk about there. 
Now her brother, Mr. Halleck,' pursued the 
man, flicking up his horse as they dragged 
up a stony hill, ' he used to ride about and 



THE LONG LAXE 23 

see his friends around the country ; for the 
family, as you know, has been here since ' — 
with a true Cornish liberality of genealo- 
gical statement — ' since the Drooids ; but 
Mrs. Ross, she doesn't seem to care for 
much but her books, and slie's left off tlie 
farming all but one cow.* 

Much of tliis Honor had known before ; 
but she was glad of the driver's uncon- 
scious confirmation of her own belief that 
at Trebarva she would be secure from dis- 
covery. She was a little surprised to find 
the man knew as much as he did about 
Trebarva and its mistress ; but his next 
words explained this : 

* My mother's cousin, Ruth Thomas, 
and lier husband have been servants tliere 
since tliey was married and he left the 
sea, so I know some'ut o' tlie ])lace, and 



24 THE LONG LANE 

that the Hallecks were part of our real 
old gentry, though I can't tell why they 
built their house in such a lonesome 
part. 

' Is it a big house ? ' questioned Honor. 

' Tolerable large ; there's a room they 
say John Wesley slept in, the night before 
a big preaching, although the Hallecks were 
Church folk. But there's little Church in 
these parts,' quoth the driver, waxing pole- 
mical with the scorn of the West Country 
Wesleyan for the Establishment ; ' Lynion 
Church don't hold more than forty souls, 
and it's four miles from Trebarva. Men's 
salvation don't owe much hereabouts to 
the Archbishop of Canterbury.' 

He was as ready as most of his people 
for a theological discussion, and rather 
disappointed to find his sarcasm on the 



THK LOXG LAXE 25 

cliief ecclesiastical slieplierd of England 
met with no return from liis auditcjr ; but 
Honor was watching the sunset glow ilusli 
the sky. Was it possible that, only three 
days before, she had seen those roseate 
trails of cloud across the purpling blue, 
from til at hotel window in Paris ? A 
strange chill overcame her, that was not 
born of the evening shadow creeping slowly 
over the wide moorland. Had she done 
wrong after all? Well, what was done 
was done. 

When she reached Trebarva, it was 
dark, and in answer to the unaccustomed 
knock at the front door, it opened and a 
stream of light fell on the i,drl standing? 

O DC? 

there. 

A wondei'ing figure beyond, within, 
started as puzzled and incredulous, scarce 



26 THE LONG LANE 

daring to hope ; then at Honor's appeahng, 
half-sobbing cry, ' Mary ! ' Mrs. Eoss's 
arms were outstretched, and the tired, 
lonely, passionate heart clasped to hers felt 
rest and warmth and help at last. 

' But your husband ? ' asked Mrs. Eoss, 
as she and her darling, the first confusion of 
greeting over, were standing in the sitting- 
room, the elder friend still scarcely able to 
comprehend this tall beautiful girl was the 
child she had parted from four years 
before : ' is he coming here too ? ' 

Then she saw in the lamp-light how 
tired and haggard her child's face was with 
no mere bodily fatigue, but with an inward 
weariness as well, and she dreaded Honor's 
answer. 

It came slowly yet passionately. 

' I have come to live with you, if you 



THE LONG LANE 27 

will have me. Don't turn me away, don't 
ask me anything ; you must trust me as 

you used to, when ' 

Then all her control gave way and her 
words were strangled by tears ; her arms 
clung to Mrs. Eoss, and the long strain on 
her whole being broke down in a child's 
appeal, a child's wild sobbing — ' Oh, Mary, 
whenever I was wTetched, I always came 
to you.' 



28 THE LONG LANE 



CHAPTER XXI. 

Thou hast been, shalt be, art alone, 
Or, if not quite alone, yet they 
Which touch thee are unmating things ; — 
Ocean and clouds and night and day, 
Lone autumns and triumphant springs. 

Matthew Arnold. 

Mrs. Eoss made no answer, except by the 

strong clasp of her arms round her darhng. 

At first it was all dim and confused, then 

gradually, as the days went on, she began 

to understand far more than Honor ever 

told her. Honor's brooding manner, the 

dumb passion of her eyes when the subject 

was touched on, told her friend all she 

needed to know : — with a tender firmness 

born of a resolute determination to do 

right, she tried to persuade Honor to 



TUE LOXG LANE 29 

return to her husband and ask him to 
forgive her rash, sudden flight, but Honor 
turned on her witli a fierce decision whicli 
rendered further pleading impossible. 

'You may make me leave you,' she 
said, ' but that is all. I would never do 
what you tell me, if I were starving or 
dying. ' Don't speak of it again, because I 
can't bear it.' 

' It is only for your sake,' answered 
Mrs. Ross. 

' Then let me stay here and be happy ; ' 
a faint bitter smile at her own word 
touched Honor's mouth ; ' you won't grow 
tired of me — will you ? ' 

' Norah ! if you knew what it is to have 



you agam 



'Don't — ' Honor winced — 'I mean, 
never call me by that name again. I hatt- 



30 THE LO^^G LANE 

it now/ She pulled off the thick wedding- 
ring which still fettered her finger : ' Take 
care of this,' she said — what morbid feehng 
was it which made her dislike guarding it 
herself and yet reluctant to throw it away ? 
' I am Honor Eoss now, your niece, and 
will forget everything else, if I can.' A 
long dragging sigh ended her words, and 
Mrs. Eoss's eyes followed her with a 
sad, fond longing to restore to her all 
she had lost of brightness and hope and 

joy- 

And yet their life grew to be happy, in 
its own quiet way, and Honor enjoyed its 
wild freedom She became clear of eye and 
light of limb, and almost seemed to be living 
her childhood over again, in the delight of 
clambering about the rocks, her daring 
growing with her sense of self-reliance and 



THE LONG LANE 31 

safety, and in the pleasure of driving in lier 
boat before or against a squall, or of long, 
lonely wanderings among the colour and 
sweetness of the heather. 

She was too young and vigorous for 
her crushed youth not to revive within 
her ; and as she grew more attached to her 
new existence, the dread of her retreat 
being discovered made her wilder, shyer, 
and more brusque at any chance meeting 
with a stranger. The darker hours would 
still come upon her when, as her woman- 
hood expanded and there woke within her 
new wants and yearnings and possibilities, 
born of her fast developing nature, she 
felt her freedom but a mockery, and those 
wide moors narrowed to a prison. As her 
will grew stronger, her ])ower of self-con- 
trol increased, and the constant check on 



dZ THE LOXG LANE 

her wistful longing for something beyond 
these rocks, became a habit, which resulted 
in an outward hardness. She must ' dree 
her own weird,' and never for one moment 
did she regret the step she had taken that 
July night, when she had recklessly broken 
the shackles with which she had bound 
herself. 

It was to still the unrest which would 
trouble her that she had taken to mathe- 
matics, with a vague idea that they might 
serve as an anodyne, and persevered in the 
study, though Mrs. Eoss had fancied she 
would soon weary of it. The wayward 
undisciplined nature felt the strength and 
beauty of eternal law, when it did not sway 
her own actions, and so she made a law 
unto herself. The study gave her a feeling 
of stability, and she kept to it, albeit by fits 



TllK LONG LANE 33 

and starts, wlieuevcr tlie mood of dreari- 
ness and of tlie wastedness of her life 
returned to her. 

So tlie months circled into years, and 
in their quietness she forgot, at times, the 
past. She was held as Miss Eoss by the 
farm people and fishing folk about Tre- 
barva. Euth liad accepted her as 'Mass 
Honor from the first; and if, with her 
shrewd insight, she had more inkling 
than Honor knew of her real name and 
position, she kept it to herself, with the 
rough reticent loyalty which was part of 
her character. Nothing was ever heard 
of any attempt to track Honor, either on 
the part of her husband or Agnes ; and 
Mrs. Eoss, knowing so little of the brief 
episode of the girl's married life, began to 
feel Honor was hers entirely and surely 

VOL. II. D 



34 THE LO]!^G LANE 

— that no one would take her from her 
now. 

The money, too, Honor had brought 
with her, made things easier at Trebarva. 
Mrs. Eoss's income was very slender ; had 
it been larger, she might, long before, have 
left the lonely grey house; but, as it was, 
she could not afford it, as her only chance 
of letting it would have been during the 
summer. 

■ Now, comforts such as deep-hued cur- 
tains and rugs made the old house cheer- 
ful, and, from time to time, the two women 
had books and prints and photographs down 
from London ; and Honor, seeing how her 
friend enjoyed these, entered into her plea- 
sure, through sympathy, and so learned 
to find her own delight in them, and 
the new world they opened to her in 



THE LONG LANE 35 

wliich lier own life seemed a small atom, 
easy to forget — sometimes. 

Was slie happy ? Mrs. Eoss often won- 
dered, but she liad a tact and fear that 
prevented her trying to probe Honors 
heart. Only one gusty winter's evening, 
when the wind was rising in a cry outside, 
above the stormy sound of the sea, she 
looked at the mute, beautiful figure sitting 
on the hearth, her eyes fixed on the flickering 
flames of the fire, while her hand absently 
stroked Dan's head. At last Mrs. Koss spoke. 

' Honor, my child, what is it ? ' 

Honor looked up at her and answered, 
as if straight from her tli ought — 

'Leo! my little l)rother : I can't lielp 
thinking of liim. Would papa have been 
angry with me for leaving him so ? Was 1 
wrong ? He may want me now.' 

D 1' 



36 THE LONG LANE 

' He has his mother,' said Mrs. Eoss. 

' But she has another baby now — I saw it 
in the paper — and she and her new husband 
may not care for LioneL I did love him, 
though I never thought of him, and now I 
keep fearing he is unhappy — I ought to 
have known.' 

It seemed a new terrible, troubling 
thought to her that her actions could 
influence the lives of others, that she was 
responsible for more than the evil and good 
affecting herself. 

She had risen and stood by the window, 
staring out into the night, her forehead 
pressed against the cold glass of the pane. 

' I never thought it would matter,' she 
said, in a low voice, ' or how much I should 
want him,' and the heart-hunger of her 
tone held Mary from replying. 



THE LONG LAXE 37 

This was the stor}'- of Honor's Hie till, 
in the third year of her dwellinL^ at 
Trebarva, slie met Stephen Nugent — ' tlic 
story slie could not tell him, whicli lie 
could not understand.' 



38 THE LONG LANE 



CHAPTEE XXII. 

Look in my face ; my name is * might have been ; ' 
I am also called ' no more/ ' too late,' ' farewell.' 

ROSSETTI. 

There wsls silence in the room. Stephen 
did not say, 'Is this true?' He knew the 
bitterness of her words was wrung from 
her very heart ; knew too, as he had not yet 
known, that she loved him utterly, that heart 
and soul and brain were his, all his — and 
between him and her a great gulf fixed! 
The hopeless misery of her eyes as they 
met his, pleading for pardon and help, 
overcame him with keener pain than his 
own wretchedness, and his head dropped 
on his hands, with a groaUo 



THE LONG LANE 39 

But lier confession had given her 
strength. Now she had told him tlie 
truth, lier worst anguish was over, and lier 
love cast out fear. The old fear that had 
racked her through the sleepless niglU, tlie 
dread of his anger, his scorn, his doubt of 
her, were irone. He trusted her still ; iu 
such poor measure as was possible to her 
she had justified his faith. The shame and 
bewildering terror of meeting his look had 
left her, even as the sorrow and passion of 
love filled her heart. As in a dream, 
Stephen heard her voice, grave and .low, 
with a strange ring therein of child-inno- 
eence, of woman-tenderness, albeit it still 
trembled. 

' The worst is to have hurt you, and 
now what can I do ? * Her words fal- 
tered wistfully, and he raised liis head, a 



40 THE LONG LANE 

sudden, desperate prayer springing to his 
lips. 

That prayer which should mean the 
bringing of shame to her, died unspoken, 
as he met the piteous love of her eyes. 
His head drooped again, only he stretched 
out his arms as if feeling towards her 
from a blind solitude of pain ; as be- 
seeching the love she must deny, yet 
praying for help against his own weakness 
— -all this found expression in those out- 
reaching, imploring arras, and the new 
instincts awakened in Honor, understood 
and answered the appeal in a mingled 
ecstasy of pity and longing and sorrow, all 
fused in remorse. Her hands met his, 
which closed upon them with a passionate 
fervour, and then she had fallen at his feet, 
sobbinor as thousfh her heart would break. 



THE LOXCi LAXH 41 

' Honor, my love ! oli, my love ! ' 

Her pale lips re])eated 'love,' as gaining 
courage to speak. It was strange to 
Stephen to see her thus, her self-restramt, 
self-rehance, vanished, and yet with a truer 
and gentler strength nerving her, for all 
her pain. 

' Help me ! ' she said, as she rose and 
stood looking down, where his head was 
still bowed over her hand still clasped 
in his. ' I can't be brave, unless you 
are.' 

' Brave ! ' he echoed, as though the 
word were a bitter jest. He looked up, 
but his words came heavily and slowly. 
' You mean, I must leave you' — he dropped 
Iier hand. 

As if gatliering strength for loneliness, 
sJie turned and walked awav to the win 



42 THE LOXG LANE 

dow. The sad low moaning of the estrang- 
ing sea smote on her ear. ' I have been 
so wrong,' she said at last : ' I want to do 
right.' 

The cry of her words was as a re- 
proach to the man whom she loved — who 
loved her. There came back to him the 
remembrance of that night in the moon- 
light ; of his careless, easily spoken words 
anent one moment in life, which might 
prove its ordeal. If now were Honor's 
trial, God help him to help her in her 
need. He forgot himself and his own pain ; 
]ie rose, went to her and again held her 
hands in his, but, this time, they both 
stood, as braced to struggle, and his eyes 
met hers loyally. 

' You have done no wrong to me,' he 
said hoarsely. ' To lova you is the best I 



THE LONG LANE 43 

liave ever known. It is to leave you here 
alone tliat is hard.' 

There was to Honor a terrible sweet- 
ness in his words ; it was so wonderful 
tliis should be a living sorrow to him, that 
he should care so much for her. For one 
moment it seemed to make everything 
easy; the dreary future was lit, even as the 
leaden tossing sea afar was, by one gleam 
of light. 

Then all this hour meant — the loss of 
life, the parting with this new treasure of 
love — forced itself back on her ; her li{)s 
f[uivered as she said, ' I have been alone 
so much, don't think of that — and it is all 
my fault.' 

He knew nothing of her past, but the 
cliild-honesty, the child-simplicity of her 
words touched him to the quick. Again 



44 THE LONG LAXE 

the strong temptation seized him, bidding 
him cast doubt and honour and self-con- 
trol aside, to gather her to him, heedless of 
denial, and ask her to forget all in a 
love which should shelter and hold her to 
the end. 

What breath of the storm-wind raging 
within him stirred Honor's heart? He 
could not tell, yet felt that she read the 
meaning of his eyes' new light. Was it 
an instant's answering irresolution in her 
own, which made their sadness change into 
quick questioning ? 

If so, in a moment that look had 
passed, and it was he who broke the 
silence : "^ I can't say good-bye.' 

'There is no good-bye to say.' The 
words were abrupt, but her voice was 
breaking with its weight of pain. 



THE LOXG LANE 4"') 

If he could but liave lield her for a 
minute now, as he held her yesterday, in 
the wild swirl of the waves, farewell would 
not have been so hard. 

' Only,' he said, as answering the un- 
spoken denial of his unspoken entreaty, 
' 1 am always yours. If I could take y(»u 
now — ' he could iK)t add, ' if you are ever 
free ; ' as it was, the flush of passionate 
shame that had rushed to her face rebuked 
him. 'Forgive me!' he said; there wa> 
a heat of tears in his eyes and her hand 
was pressed to his mouth ; ' forgive me, 
oh, my dearest! I love you so! I want 
you so much ! ' 

He felt her liand shake, as with alarm 
' Go ! ' said her stifled voice, ' go ! ' 

How he had obeyed her he could not 
tell, lie was striding across tlie heatli. 



46 THE LONG LANE 

longing to return to where he had left her, 
to take her and say, ' You are mine, you 
love me and must yield ; mine as I am 
yours alone, in life and death ! ' 

It was Honor who had conquered for 
them both. He did turn, but it was only to 
look his last on Trebarva, set amongst the 
livid purple of the hes^th, with the white- 
edged thunder- clouds above, and grey in 
the salt air of the dull July day. God bless 
and comfort her, his love, whom no help 
of his could avail. 



TIIK I.OMi LA.NK 



CHAPTER XXIII. 

But oh the heavy change now thou art p-one, 
Now thou art gone and never must return ! 

Ltcidas. 

Vkt if ho liad seen her, wliom lie liad left 
in tlie darkened afternoon, liis resolution 
nii^ht have failed him. 

In liis presence, she liad .struggled for 
calmness and strength ; but when the need 
of self-control was over, tlie j)ower of it 
left her also: she had not )^et recovered from 
the strain of yesterday's fight with the sea. 
Her nerves gave way and she sank down 
l)y the wide window-seat, her frame shaken 
l)y lier sobs; and her tears, unresisted 



48 THE LOXG LANE 

now, falling hot, and heavy, and fast on 
her tightly clasped hands. 

Gone ! And with him all he had 
brouc^ht — the renewed sense of summer and 
youth and joy. Were all these wrong? As 
wrong as she knew she must henceforth 
hold this love to be, which had grown up 
in her heart unchecked because undreamed 
of. She felt very old, as old as only the 
very young can feel, and she was but 
twenty-one. 

Only twenty- one ; too young yet, for 
all her sense of age, to have reached the 
higher passion, which most human souls 
can attain only by the stepping-stones of a 
love that is not yet lifted above the 
thought of its own sweetness and bitter- 
ness. She could not be content, so long as 
it was well with him she loved, that she 



Tiir: L()-\(i i.ANH 49 

should be apart from liim, ignored, for- 
gotten or misprized. Iler love ^vas still 
selfish ; yet tlirouLdi these tliroes she was 
striving sloAvly and unwittingly, yet surely, 
towards tliat diviner air wliere self slioiild 
be annulled. 

She knew now it had been her duty to 
tell Stephen that much of the truth which 
concerned him, at the lirst. She had m)t 
dreamed of his loving her ; but Xature 
does not take account of our ignorance or 
innocence in reckoning our sins ; and Iler 
punishments fall no less heavily, because 
the offender pleads ' I did nut know.' 
What if Honor's penance for liaving let his 
feet be ensnared in' tKose terrible tangles 
of her life thread, knotted by her own 
hand, should be his anger and scurn, when 
he thought of the return she had made him 

vr»i. II. E 



50 THE LONG LAXE 

for this strong true love that should have 
been the crown of some worthier woman's 

life? And yet Oh, she had no right to 

love him ! But she had loved him, and all 
was changed. 

How could she help holding dear the 
memory of his voice, of that pleading look 
which of late had thrilled through her, of 
the whole sudden flush of quick pleasure, 
which had brightened and glorified this 
last brief, long week ? She had moved in 
a dream : she was awake now — never to 
dream again. 

But that dream must never be known 
to any but herself. Till now she had been 
reserved, holding her inward self, her 
emotions, her instincts jealously guarded 
(her life with Agnes having trained her to 
reticence) from Mary, -and this reserve 



THE LOXG LAXE 51 

should serve her now in keeping the secret 
which was doubly hers, in that it was 
Stephen's as well. 

She rose and slowly went upstairs tu 
her room ; where she sat till the twih<dit 
gathered duskily, and one straggling gleam 
from the west smote the withered twine 
of honeysuckle hanging above the mantel- 
piece. 

It must be nearly tea-time ; she did 
not want Mary or ItutJi to miss her ; and 
she smoothed her rough hair and dashed 
cold water over her lace. Its touch 
recalled those salt chill waves of yester- 
day, and she siiivered, despite the sultry 
heat which was growing more oppressive 
every mcjuient — the forecast of a thunder- 
storm. 

' Have you been resting, Honor ? ' asked 

K 2 

•i. OF ILL LIB. 



o2 THE LONG LAXE 

Mrs. Eoss, when she came downstairs, 
with a step which, despite her effort, was 
hstless and weary. ' You look tired out, 
my child.' 

' No, only it is so hot — I want air.' 

' Was not Mr. Nugent here ? I hoped to 
see him, but he left so soon.' 

So soon ! his visit had seemed to 
Honor like an eternity. ' I should have 
come down,' Mrs. Eoss continued, ' but I 
saw him going away towards Lynion. I 
was very sorry, for you told me this was 
his last day here. Perhaps he will come 
and say good-bye to-night.' 

' Perhaps,' Honor answered mechani- 
cally. 

' You are not well, dear,' said her friend 
anxiously. ' I am sure you have not got 
over that terrible time yesterday. I have 



T!Ii: Lo.Mi L\M: 'Jo 

never tlianked Mr. Xiit^ent yet — and wlien 
1 think ' she shuddered. 

Was life so great a Ijoon ? Honor 
drearily wondered. The eveniiiL' cIo'^cmI 
in, but the heat was so heavy and brood- 
ing, she sat in the window-seat by the (jj)en 
casement yearning for a breath of wind. 
In her desire not to be observed she had 
taken uj) a bo^'k, and it lay open on her 
lap, the light from a snr.ill lamp on a 
table by lipr falling on its open page; but 
her eyes were fixed on the troul)led lui-id 
streaks of light above the dark confused 
heaving of the sea. Mrs. Ivoss was en- 
grossed in a novel, rather a rare luxui-y 
v.'ith her, and consequently much a])pre- 
ciated, when Ruth opened the door. 

* A letter, ma'am, from Lynion ; Johnnie 
Pall brought it over.' 



54 THE LOXG LAXK 

Mrs. Ptoss opened and read it ; it was 
from Nuc^ent, a brief note of farewell to 
her, warm and grateful. Yet it chilled her 
a little : there was no mention of writing 
or meeting again, no word of Honor. 
She handed it to the girl, without saying 
anything. Honor looked at it with dazed 
eyes. These were the first words she had 
ever seen written by Stephen Nugent's 
hand ; and she would fain have laid her 
lips to the paper, which she handed back 
carelessly enough, saying, as she divined 
what was in her friend's mind, ' We said 
good-bye this afternoon.' 

' How cold she is ! ' thought Mrs. Eoss, 
' except with those she really cares for.' 

Honor had taken up her book again, 
and was gazing full at the page, scarcely 
recking what she read, although ever after 



Tin: i-ox(; lam: o-j 

the words tlion beluro her recalled tli».' 
achiiiL', dull misery of tliat lioiir. 

It was a small aiitholoLry slie held ; 
perhaps without knowing it she had in- 
stinctively souLdit out Drayton's wonderful 
ap{)ealinLr sonnet, for which till now slie 
had cared little, though its music haunted 
her : 

Since there's no help, coine, let iw kiss and part. 

Nay, T have done ; you get no nioit? of luc. 
And I am glad, yea, glad with all my heait, 

Tliat I so clearly 

A sudden double Hash of lightning fell 
on the page; and as in one moment she 
seemed to read the last lines : 

Now at the last gasp of Love's latest bitsath, 
When his pulse failing, passion sj^oechlesa lie*, 

When Faith is knooling hy his hod of death, 
And Innocence is closing up Ids eyes. 

Now, if thou wilt, when all have given him over, 

From Death to Life thoti mightest hira recover. 



56 THE LONG LANE 

It was as the €13^ of lier own heart, 
strangely echoed back from those dead 
centuries. She felt stifled, and gasped for 
breath as the thunder crashed overhead, 
rolling across the sky ; and in the pause 
that followed, she leant out, where a few 
nights before she had bent to gather the 
carnations, till in the stillness she felt the 
great raindrops fall on her upturned face 
and hot brow. 

' Honor dear ! come in ; it is not safe ! ' 

She turned for an instant. ' Let me,' 
she ])leaded ; 'I never felt a storm before.' 

But Mrs. Eoss had a wholesome horror 
of lightning, and insisted firmly on the 
window beini^ shut. Even then it made 
her uncomfortable to see Honor standing 
by it, intently v/atching the swift blaze of 
the flashes. 



THE LOXr; I.AXK b» 

'It is a Avorse storm than tliat one 
wliic'li brought Mr. Nugent here.' 

IIoiKn* did not answer. It was surely 
well that this wild night should end the 
day which had seen tlieir severance — 
his last day at Lynion. Better so than if 
the tender evenhig sky, clear nioonliglit, 
and nnrulHed sea, with sleeping waves and 
low melody, had recalled those other nights 
.when the star-sown space had seemed so 
far away and yet so close to the earth and 
them. 



58 THE LOXG LAXE 



CIIAPTEE XXIY. 

Yet till the pluiritoms flee, 
Which that house and heath and garden made dear to 
thee erewliile, 
Thy remembrance and repentance and deep miisin<?s are 
not free 
From the music of two voices and the light of one sweet 
smile. — Shelley. 

The summer was gone ; autumn came on 
and passed, with the brown leaves drop- 
ping from the trees, the brown paper from 
London drawinfT-room windows. And 
Nugent let the months go by, without 
caring to note their change, except from 
the windows of his studio and his rooms 
adjoining it. When he had returned to 
town from Cornwall, the season was nearly 
over, and, through the sultry heats of 



TiiK LONG lam: 59 

August and September, lie felt little in- 
clination to the society of his kind, and 
still less to leave London again : he nuLdit 
change the sky, but not the mind ; he 
knew that well enough. 

He painted feverishly and constantly, 
but with little feeling of advance and little 
care for the future — all he wanted was to 
recall the past. The creamy reaches of 
sand ; the mingled richness of the serpen- 
tine hues ; the bronze of the seaweed ; 
the purple mail of the mussel-clad rocks 
shining in the sun, against the hyaline sea ; 
the orange-tawny patches of lichen on the 
grey boulders ; the bloom of tlie heather ; 
the faint, rosy radiance of the sea-thrift — all 
these rose before him, bringing her to mind. 

Gradually, as the year wore on, he took 
up his old life again, only with the aching 



60 THE LONG LAXE 

weariness of frustrated possibilities never 
before dreamed of, but now a burden on 
him. The vision of a pale girl's face 
flashed on him, from time to time, as lifted 
to his in a passion of appeal ; breaking in 
on thought, or action, a need and a desire 
for evermore. 

It was not always thus he saw her. 
She would come back to him in her defiant 
moods, her tenderness, her brightness ; 
while, from afar, he felt her present life 
grinding on from day to day, as slie had 
foretold. He could distract himself; tlie 
world was all before him, little as the 
profit of it seemed, set against the loss of 
lier, his soul ; but she, poor child I 

There was the pang : she must weary 
on alone ; the cry of the wind and sea 
could bear her no echo of his longing to 



THE LONG LANE 61 

comfort her, of his sore pain in lier desola- 
tion wliicli made liim desolate. 

lie had asked, and she had ;iiven, no 
explanation of her story ; but ignorant as 
he was of it, no question of any wront^', 
save perchance rashness or imprudence on 
her part, ever crossed his mind. The sad 
purity of voice and eyes told that, even 
though he had made her sin unwillingly, 
by his winning her to love him, against the 
instinct of her nature. 

If he might only write ! Why had she 
made the separation so cruel, so entire? 
Yet she was right ; he knew that. 

Was his life to drift on like this to the 
end, into a dilettante old bachelorhood, or 
perchance a loveless marriage ? Anything 
seemed possible, save only awakening to an 
interest in life which should make it real 



6^ THE LOXG LANK 

once more, as he had deemed it during 
those summer days. 

People were coming back to town ; liis 
club was filling, and shooting invitations 
suggested a way of killing time, rather 
more beguiling than were most ; but the 
country house existence irked him, and he 
came back to town, disgusted with sport 
that was no sport, but carnage — and long- 
ing for some few days' tramping over the 
Cornish moors, after snipe and woodcock. 

However, on his return to London, on a 
chilly November day, after one of these un- 
satisfactory visits, he found a letter awaiting 
him, Avhich gave him real, quick pleasure. 

Hill Street, Tuesday. 

' Dearest Steve, — Here we are, back at 
last, bag and baggage, chicks and Geoff 
and myself — and, oh dear! if ever I go 



Tin: Loxci LAXE 63 

travelliiiL^ again for six months, for my 
health forsooth, burdened with four chil- 
dren and a husband who hardly knows 
his own language, let alone foreign tongues, 

I'm — I'm Well, I'm Geoffrey's wife 

(though my name's not Constance), so I 
suppose I must do as he pleases. 

' For himself, he is starting off this very 
night for Ireland — in order, as he conside- 
i'ately says, to let me get settled down in 
peace. For real thoughtfulness commend 
me to a husband. However, I am so glad 
to get home again that I forgive him ; and 
as I know he will want to catch a ghmpse 
of you (not a bit because I want to see 
you myself), do come in and have a scratcli 
meal with us, this evening. 

' Your loving Sister, 

^EsTUER Strahan. 



64 THE LONG LANE 

' P.S. — You miglit have looked us up 
somewhere, during our wander higs ! I had 
ahnost forgotten I have a brother — George 
doesn't count ; one might as well liave a 
blue-book and a ledger bound together ; 
all he is good for, is to make haste and be 
made a baronet as quick as possible, so 
that we may bask in his reflected glory.' 

Mrs. Strahan was Stephen's favourite 
sister, the nearest in age to him, and one of 
those women who are constant to their 
early interests and affections, even while 
husband and children claim most of their 
lives. She was Stephen's ideal of a sister, 
as she would have been most men's, from 
the ready sympathy with all his moods, 
which yet never sought to know their 
causes. He was of too reserved a nature 



Tin: ijjSii LANE G5 

to confide the trouMon- (juestions oi jn- 
life even to Esther's tenderness, hut it had 
grown natural to liiui to turn to lier. a^ tht- 
one person * who, il'shi,' did not understand 
him always, felt for him, and with him.' 
From liis boyhood, even if slie had never 
inspired his ideals, she had never lowered 
them, which is no small tliiuL' to sa\, 
regarding the relations betwixt a brother 
and sister, in these latter days. 

She liad been ill in the sprinL^ and hail 
spent the time, since then, aljroad. Ste]>hen 
had missed both her and GeoIFrey Strahan, 
who was his friend as well as his sister's 
liusband. 

So the dull afternoon was bi'ighter as 
he wended his way to the cosy houx.* in 
Hill Street, where he found his sister once 
more with hei household gods, in tiie 

V(JL. 11. y 



66 THE LONG LAXi. 

shape of bric-a-brac, around her ; and en- 
gaged in rearranging them after her own 
whim and fancy. 

Mrs. Strahan sprang to meet him, with 
a fond pretty affection, which was part 
of her sweetness, and then returned to the 
pohshing of a pet bit of cloisonne enameL 

' Business is business,' she said, ' and 
I've set my heart on getting these things 
straight before tea-time ; so take that large 
arm-chair like a good boy, and tell me all 
you have been doing. It is growing dusk 
fast, and I shan't be able to work much 
longer, for fear of breaking things.' 

' Why need you trouble yourself this 
way ? can't the servants see to these pots 
and pans ? ' 

Mrs. Strahan drew herself up, the 
picture of injured virtue^ with a Bow tea- 



THK LOXG LAXK 67 

pot clasped to her heart. ' Steplien I ' slie 
exclaimed. 

' Well ! ' 

' Did you ever know me neprlect my 
husband ? ' 

' GeofT never told me that you did.' 

' I should like to pull your hair! Or my 
children ? ' 

' Cornelia wasn't in it witli you.' 

' Thank you ; and when you were a 
boy, whose rabbits and wliite rats did I 
always feed when he ibriiot tliem ? ' 

' Don't " anticipate the past." But wliat 
has all this <iot to do with my question?' 

'Only, how you could think 1 Wduld 
leave my china to servants ! ' and the 
•irieved reproacli of Mrs. Strahan's tone 
was cxcpiisite. * No, thank you,' as her 
brother sprang up to licl]) licr place the 

1 2 



68 THE LONG LANE 

teapot on the top velvet-covered shelf of 
a cabinet, ' I believe you are equal to 
smashing it on purpose.' 

'I feel rather hke it,' Nugent owned. 'I 
haven't seen you for nine months, and you 
can't talk of anything but crockery.' 

' I told you to talk, and I would listen. 
Don't be cross ; the china is all right now, 
and I am going to tack tliis strip of old 
Italian work as a mantelpiece drapery. 
Isn't that lovely colour ? ' as she displayed 
it. 

' Yes, it's very nice ; where did you pick 
it up ? ' 

' At Milan, at the shop you told me of ; 
and oh, Steve, you should see some lace 
I got there ! Geoff grumbled at my extra- 
vagance, but I couldn't resist it.' 

' And you enjoyed Italy ? ' 



THE LONG LAXE G9 

'Not at all,' rejoined Esther decisively. 
' I should like to know who would enjoy 
anytliinf,^ when they are dragging about 
three children and a nurse and no courier?' 

' But Geoff wrote he was trying to spare 
you all he could.' 

'So he was, dear old boy, and of course 
made things much worse. In regard to 
men,' said Mrs. Strahan, pausing before her 
work, with a hammer in one hand, a tack 
in the other, and her head poised critically 
on one side, ' I have come to the conclusion 
that, however good their intentions may 
be, there is not one who has either 
German, Italian, or French, sufficient to 
soften the asperities of the doaane^ or to 
resist the extortions of porters ; and so we 
poor women ! — No ; I have told Geoffrey 
I never travel again, except as a Cook's 



70 tmp: long lane 

tourist — that is my idea of luxury — every 
thing seen to for you.' 

Stephen laughed. Esther shook her 
head as if her words were too serious to be 
treated as a jest, and knocked in another 
nail with great vigour. 

' But what have you been doing ? ' she 

said. ' Oh ! how often, when I got your 

letters from Cornwall, I wished we had 

been there in peace and quietness ! No 

large hotels, no cathedrals, no pictures, 

no canals, no orange trees, no beggars, 

no garlic I and then no Kursaals and 

mineral baths ! How I used to envy you ! ' 

' And no old brocade and laces.' 

' Nonsense ! as if one couldn't pick 

them up in London ; — since Geoff isn't 

present to hear me own it. But you 

tainted a great deal, didn't you ? ' 



THE LOX(i LAXE 71 

' Pretty well ; will you come round to- 
morrow and judge for yourself? — come to 
lunch.' 

' I should like it, if I may bring Daisy.' 

' Of course,' said Stephen, who w^as 
very fond of his sister's eldest daughter, 
aged seven. 

' And you will have oysters ? ' 

' I don't know ; it depends on how you 
treat me to-night. Oh ! here is Daisy,' as 
the sound of small steps coming rapidly 
down the stairs, finishing with a tremendous 
jump and bang at the end of tlie flight, was 
followed by the a])pearance of Miss Daisy 
Strahan herself. 

' I lieard Uncle Steve was here, so I 
came,' she announced, witli some firmness, 
and springing on his knee. 

' I>ut where are the others?' asked her 



72 THE LOXG LAXE 

motlier. ' I tlioiiglit Maudie Hughes Avas 
coming to tea with you ; you shouldn't 
leave your guest, Daisy.' 

' Oh, she's all right,' responded Miss 
Daisy calmly. ' They are playing bears in 
a cave, and I'm only tlie mother, so I pre- 
tended to go away to market — as I wanted 
to see you,' to Stephen. 

'Quite right, old woman,' responded her 
uncle. 'Are you glad to be back home 
aoain ? ' 

Daisy nodded her head emphatically. 
' But I liked the fruit for breakfast,' she 
owned. 

' You are your mother's own daughter,' 
said Stephen. 'Never mind, Daisy, you are 
coming to lunch to-morrow with me, and 
mamma wants oysters ; what fruit shall I 
get yoLi?' 



Till-: i.osii LAXI-: 73 

' Melon,' decided Dai^y, after some re- 
flection, 'and Hrazil nuts.' 

'Heaven save your digestion,' said her 
uncle. ' Anytliinir else? ' 

Daisy tliouirlit for a moment. 'If you 
get some preserved cherries,' she remarked, 
' I can bring them and the nuts back, to 
make a feast witli.' 

' Daisy,' interrupted her mother, ' you 
ought to be ashamed of yourself.' 

'Uncle Steve asked me,' returned Daisy 
defiantly. 'Oh, Uncle Steve,' with a sudden 
change of tone, ' weren't there real caves, 
where you were, when we were in Italy?' 

' Yes, Daisy, but no bears.' 

'I don't want the bears,' said his niece 
— ' not wlicn they are real. What were 
tlie caves hke ? ' 

' Shall I tell you ? ' Nugent was not 



74 THE LONG LAXE 

looking at the child, but gazing into the 
red depths of the fire, as if its hollows 
recalled to him a vision of those lofty 
caverns of the western shore. ' Some w^ere 
very high,' he said, ' and you had to bring 
in great bunches of dry furze to light them 
up ; the ground was all slippery and wet 
where the sea had gone out at low tide ; 
and above, you could see the walls shining 
with the w^ater, which soaked through 
from the upper ground ; and beautiful 
green ferns were growing there, just 
where a little light came in through the 
chinks.' 

' Go on,' said Daisy. 

' Then there was another much more 
beautiful,' and Mrs. Strahan w^ondered at 
the subdued ring of sad and passionate 
memory in her brother's voice. ' But you 



Tin: LONG LANE 76 

could only get there in a boat, when the 
sea was very calm, and so green and clear, 
you could see all the great brown seaweeds 
below, waving and moving about as if they 
were alive.' 

'Like those in the "Little Mermaid."' 

' Just like them ; and so we rowed 
along ' — how sw^eet that ' we ' sounded in 
the speaker's own ears — ' till we saw what 
looked like a big hole in the great red 
clifTs.' 

' And that was the cave ? ' 

' Yes ; and as we drew near, we saw 
that it went far, far into the cliff — so far 
that no man has ever gone to the end — and 
the water in the cave was like a beryl — a 
jewel fdled witli light; and the fringe of 
shining dark seaweed lifted and fell with 
each movement, as our boat gUded in ; 



76 THE LONG LAXE 

only it was so still, you could not even 
hear the water stir.' 

' Oh, Uncle Steve ! it is like a fairy 
tale.' 

'It was much more like a fairy tale 
than you can think.' He checked a sigh 
that rose heavily from his heart. ' All 
above, the roof was the palest pink, like 
tlie inside of a shell, and it deepened lower 
down into a colour like rose-leaves, till it 
became a crimson, such as you sometimes 
see in a sunset, to where it touched the 
dark line of seaweed, and the green water 
like tlie evening sky.' 

Daisy drew a deep breath. ' Is it all 
true?' she asked. 'There ought to have 
been a fairy.' 

' Perhaps there was,' said Stephen, re- 
membering the slight figure in the blue 



Till": LOX(i LANE / i 

serge gown, the light iinii grasp of the 
slender wrists on the oars, and tlie ])eau- 
tiful face uj)liirned to the roseate vauh 
above tlieir heads, in tliat wonderful 
huslied silence of tlie cave. 

' I wonder ' began Daisy ; but her 

speculations were stopped by the arrival of 
tlie afternoon tea equipage and tlie sliaded 
lamp, and at a sign from her mother she 
vanished. 

Stephen drew up his chair nearer the 
fire, as Esther began to busy herself over 
lier pretty cups and saucers in the soft 
hght. ' Wliy, Essie,' he said, ' now I see 
you, you look younger than ever. Or is it 
tliat artful lam]) of yours?' 

'Let me see you,' she said, 'and tlien 
I can judge;' but as s\\e gazed fully at 
him, she almost started. Those liaLTLrard 



78 THE LOXO LAXE 

lines round his mouth and eyes liad not 
been there when he and she had bidden 
each other good-bye eight months ago. 
' Stephen ! ' she exclaimed, ' have you been 
ill yourself? ' 

' 111 ! No I Now, my child, give me a 
cup of tea, and don't worry yourself.' 

Mrs. Strahan obeyed, and took up her 
position on a stool, in front of the fire, 
picking up the embers with a tiny pair of 
brass tongs, while she chatted gaily to her 
brother, wlio liad thrown himself back into 
tlie largest arm-chair of wliich the room 
boasted. But she could not help glancing 
nervously every now and then at Stephen. 
The change in his expression had struck 
her painftdly ; it could not have been more 
void of expectation thirty or forty years 
lience, when life would have burnt low. 



THE LONG LVXE 79 

Mr?. Stralian said nothiiiL' at the time; 
l)ut a week later, her liushand, watcliiii<j 
lier at breakfast while she intently studied 
tlie depths of her empty coffee-cup, re- 
quested to know her thoughts. 

' Steve,' she answered concisely. 

'What of him? There's nothing the 
matter, I hope ? ' 

'Xo, but — don't laugh, Geoff; I hate 
you when you do — can't you see he's 
changed of late ? ' 

'Xo, I can't. We none of us grow 
younger, except you.' Mrs. Strahan's obsti- 
nately girlish favour and looks, sweet at 
tliirty as at eighteen, were a pet jest with 
lier husband and brother. 

' It isn't that he looks older, but I am 
sure he isn't happy.' 

'What a little woman you are for 



80 THE LONG LANE 

whims ! ' said Mr. Strahan, as, coming 
behind his wife, he took her head between 
his two hands, and kissed her forehead. 
' Don't you botlier about Steve ; he is as 
well as any idle man can be. That's all 
that's the matter with him — want of work ; 
and you see now, after so many years, the 
disease is beginning to tell.' 

' I wish he would marry.' 

' Yes ! that's your feminine panacea for 
everything. You women would try it on 
old Nick himself, and^ by Jove, I beheve a 
good many of you would be willing to try 
the experiment with him.' 

' Don't be impertinent.' 

' You believe in it as tlje cure for every 
masculine ailment. What Steve has wanted 
all his life is work. He's too good for the 
dawdling life he leads.' 



THK I.OXii LAM-: 81 

' Ihit he paints, GeofT.' 

'Paints! — ])sliaw!' The scorn of Mr. 
Strahan's ejacuhition was inexpressible. 
' He'd have stuck in a clifTerent way, even 
to that, I can tell you, if idleness had 
meant starving to him. Wliile you are 
wishing, you had better wish he had taken 
his share in the bank and the management 
of the Calcutta branch, when lie had the 
choice, after your father's death.' 

' Oh ! ' and Esther's voice told her an- 
tipathy to the notion. 

' I know it's not as pretty or pleasant as 
the life he leads, but all the same it would 
have been the making of him.' 

Mrs. Straiian sat thoughtful and silent 
tor a few moments; then her question 
showed H proper wifely respect for her 
husband's opinion. 

VOL. II. G 



82 THE LONG LANE 

' Do you think George would still take 
him into the business ? ' 

' I can't tell ; it's hardly likely — but I 
believe, of the two, you would find George 
more willing to make the offer than Steve 
to accept it.' 

' Yes,' said Mrs. Strahan, as at once 
regretful and relieved ; for the idea of 
Stephen going to Calcutta had been an old 
bugbear to her when it had been mooted 
years before. 

Still she did what she thought her duty, 
and one evening when her brother had 
dropped in, and he and she were sitting 
alone together, she mooted the idea. 
Stephen stared at her in amazement, then 
burst out laughing — rather a joyless laugh. 

' What on earth set you on to that ? ' 
he exclaimed. ' Do you think that banking 



THE LONG LANE 83 

oomes by nature like " reading and writing " !" 
or what signs liave I shown of such born 
genius for tlie trade that you want me to 
take to it at thirty-three ? I should like to 
see George's face if you started the subject : 
the prodigal's elder brother wouldn't be in 
it with him.' 

' It isn't George ; you wouldn't like it 
yourself.' If Mrs. Strahan was petulant, 
she was prettily so ; and it is annoying, 
when one has braced oneself to a virtuous 
resolution, to find one's new-born earne-^t- 
ness treated as a childish fancy, amusintr. 
but nonsensical. 

' No, certainly I shouldn't ; but why d«» 
you want to get rid of me, Essie — you and 
Geoff? — for I know this wise notion wa*< 
his before it was yours. Have I bored you 
so terribly of late ? ' 

G 2 



84 "THE LONG LaJ^E 

' No, but — ' her tone grew really earnest 
and pleading, and there was a tremble in 
her voice which touched him — ' I can't 
think what you will do.' 

It was as an echo of the vague ob- 
stinate questionings which had haunted 
him long, and more than ever since his 
parting from Honor. Cui bono? Nothing 
he knew, stood the test, but applying him- 
self to money-getting without other end or 
aim scarcely seemed a fit or fair solution of 
the problem which vexed him, and his 
answer to Esther was light : ' You talk like 
a tract — I can't think what I shall do 
myself, but I can't take to bank-books at 
this time of day. If only Geoff would 
act on his ideas and start as a model 
farmer he might engage me as bailiff. 
Tiut I never knew I seemed such a 



THE LONG LAXE 8") 

Sir Charles Coldstream ; I don't feel like 
him; 

* Used up ! ' No ; while this fire, which 
had restored to him his youth by its renew- 
ing touch, still burned so passionately in his 
heart ; only now, alas ! ' kindling nothing, 
helping nothing, idly burning away.' 



86 THE LONG LAXE 



CHAPTER XXV. 

And such a want-wit sadness makes of me, 
That I have much ado to know myself. 

Merchant of Venice. 

' Hallo ! Nugent !— Steve ! ' 

Stephen, sauntering along the corridor 
of the Palladium Theatre, turned on hearing 
his name. His whole countenance lit up 
as it met the speaker's. 'It's never you, 
Archdale ! ' he exclaimed, ' at last ! ' 

' Isn't it just ? though sometimes I 
wonder at myself. It seems so odd to be 
in England again.' 

^ What a globe-trotter you have be- 
come ! Where have you turned up from ? 



TIIK LOXfi LANK 87 

I haven't even heard of you the^^e three 
years ! ' 

'I onl}' got back a week ago. I was 
going to look you up to morrow. I've got 
such a skin for you, a grisly's — no end of a 
fellow he was — from the Rockies.' 

' Oh, that's where you hail from. I 
thought you were in India.' 

' Here, there, and everywhere ; Canada 
I sailed from. I say, this business is awful 
rot ; come along with me and let's have a 
modest drink and a talk over old days.' 

' I can't, I am here with my sister ; lier 
husband's away, and I'm doing escort. By 
Jove, there's the bell ; I must get back to 
my seat. See you again after this act.' 

Archdale nodded, and Stephen retunuMl 
to his place by his sister's side. There was 
yet a minute after he was seated before the 



88 THE LONG LANE 

curtain drew up, by which he profited to 
inform her of his recent encounter with his 
old school friend.' 

' Whom do you think I ran up against 
in the passage just now, with a beard, and 
" growed out of knowledge " ? Archdale ! ' 

' Why, I didn't know he was in Eng- 
land. When did he come back?' 

' A week ago, he says, but we only saw 
each other for a moment ; I'm going out to 
him again when this act's over ; if you 
don't mind being left.' 

' A great deal of difference it would 
make if I did,' retorted Esther. ' I have 
been jealous of that young man with 
regard to you, ever since he came to stay 
with us, your first Eton holidays. I never 
could make out how you two, so different, 
were such friends.' 



THE LONG LAXE 89 

' Tliat is ^vlly — but you never liked 
him, Essie.' 

' I hated liiui,' responded Mrs. Stra- 
lian tersely, 'and I suppose he returned 
the compliment, as he lost no opportunity 
of announcing his conviction that " girls 
were rot." ' 

' I'm afraid his experience confirmed his 
theory/ rejoined her brother, amused at 
the decisive ' Serve him right,' his Avords 
called forth from her, followed by an 
expression of entire disapproval of his 
friend's past, and of her consequent want of 
interest therein. ' It must be a good three 
years since he left England,' continued 
Stephen. ' I know wdien I came back after 
my last long wandering in foreign ])arts, 
three years after I had written to congratu- 
late him. I found he had started off to some 



90 THE LONG LAXE 

unknown region after big game, and saw or 
heard nothing of him till to-night. I never 
could make head or tail of the story, Essie. 
Was he very much cut up, poor old 
boy?' 

' I can't say. Hush ! the curtain's going 

up; 

Stephen watched the players, listlessly 
at first, and yet grew interested in the piece 
despite faults which struck him more sharply 
than they had ever done before — the lack of 
truth to nature in parts of the play ; the 
heio'htening of the effect of certain situa- 
tions at the expense of the piece as a 
whole. 

And yet this love story passing on the 
stage seemed to Nugent's fancy to hold an 
echo of his own ; but oh the difference of 
this reflection of life's loveliest joy, its 



THE LONG LANE 91 

rarest pain, from that reality, the memory 
of which it yet recalled ! How unlike was 
this girl, whose mimic woe yet permitted of 
her remembering the right disposal of the 
drapings of her elaborate gown ; with her 
artistically tinted face, and her voice tired 
into falsetto by the long, trying scene, to 
Honor — pale, with the heavy saddened 
eyes, and low dragging voice, which would 
remain with him for evermore ! 

And yet it brought it all back, and he 
felt the truth of such art as was true in tlie 
scene, far more quickly than he would 
have done six months before. He was one 
with the play, not alien to it ; a vague 
notion came to him that love may teach 
not er/o'isfue a deux, but a wider sympathy 
with the men and women of the real world, 
whereof this playhouse was the tinted 



92 THE LOJ^G LANE 

shadow — falsely coloured perhaps, yet with 
a relation to the truth he had never felt 
before — even as it had guided him to sym- 
pathy with the feigned story of these who 
were merely players. 

' Are you interested, Steve ? ' asked his 
sister, whose own pretty eyes were tearful 
by the time the act-drop fell again. 
Esther's simple emotions were readily 
awakened and sought little disguise ; yet 
she felt her own interest in the men and 
women of the play more justified as her 
brother answered, ' Yes.' 

She turned again to study her playbill, 
endeavouring to gather a forecast of the 
story's sequel from the scene of the next 
act and the Tennysonian quotation affixed 
thereunto, while Stephen again sought his 
friend in the smoking gallery. 



TlIK LnSi. LANI-: 93 

Arehdale declined — ratlier to Nugent's 
amusement — his invitation to come round 
and renew his acquaintance with Mrs. 
Strahan, on the ])lea that lie had almost 
forgotten how to speak to a lady. 

' Then the sooner you remember the 
better.' 

' That's a question,' returned Arehdale 
gloomily. ' Anyhow, your sister doesnt 
want me, and I should only bore her. 
Can't you look me up to-morrow, old 
Stiffun ? ' with a laugh, as the old Eton 
nickname came out as half familiar and 
half forgotten by both. 'I'm going out of* 
town the day after, for Christmas, to tlic 
people of a young fellow who came homo 
with me from Canada. He'd been oui 
there to see his brother who is quartered 
there. Ilunsdon, his governor, has a 



94 THE LONG LANE 

place somewhere near Leamington. It will 
be the first hunting I've had for four years.' 

' Tigers,' suggested Nugent ; ' and your 
friends the grislies.' 

' Oh, they don't count — at least, not in 
that way,' said Archdale. ' I've taken my 
old rooms in Jermyn Street. They are jolly 
diggings enough, and they have an Al 
cook there now. I can give you as good 
a dinner as we could get at the club. 
I haven't shaken down quite yet, or got 
things to rights ; but you won't mind that, 
and we can haul over the things I picked 
up at one place and another. Talking of 
grislies, do you think Mrs. Strahan would 
care for one of their skins, or a buffalo rug, 
or anything of that kind ? ' the young man 
inquired doubtfully. To him Esther was 
rather an alarming person, when he recol- 



THE I.OXG LANK 96 

lected several youthful passages-at-arnis 
between them, wherein he liad come ofl' 
second best. 

' She will be dehghted,' said Nugent ; 
* but you will have to call and offer it your- 
self. There's that confounded bell again.' 

' Well, I'm of!'; ta ta ! I can't stand this 
sentimental ."^tufr. Remember to-morrow — 
eight sharp — you know the number of 
old.' 

* I ought to do so. Good night, old 
bov.' 



96 THE LONG LAXE 



CHAPTER XXVI. 

Cloud was on my eyes 
And thunder in my ears at that first word. 

In a Balcony. 

In former days Nugent had often enough 
heard the chimes at midnight in these 
rooms of Archdale's ; and of late years, 
when he passed along Jermyn Street, he 
frequently glanced up at the windows, with 
a half-amused, half-regretful memory of 
those hours and of his host. There was 
something of real enjoyment in finding him- 
self once more springing up the familiar 
staircase and meeting Archdale's cheery 
' Here you are at last ! ' at the landing. 



THE LONG LANE 'J/ 

' Yes, it sceius like old times, llallo I 

tliougli ' as the transmogrified aspect 

of the well-known rooms met his eyes ; 
then he burst out laughing. ' I forgot,' 
he said, ^ you have leturned, but your 
old belongings haven't. Somehow I ex- 
pected to find the place look just as it used 
to do.' 

' So it will,' quoth Archdale, ' when 
I've been here a month or tw^o. Of course 
the old chairs and tables have gone the 
deuce knows where, but these \v\\\ be all 
right when they've been knocked about a 
bit.' 

Nugent laughed again. ' I see some 
old friends though,' he said ; ' I remember 
those Aiken prints in your room at 
Drury's.' 

' Yes, 1 had a lot of my old trai)S, which 
VOL. n. H 



98 THE LONG LANE 

had been stored away, sent round here to- 
day,' answered his friend. ' And I'm hanged 
if I know what to do with them,' glancing 
round at several piles of pictures, books, 
stag's-horns, sticks, murderous weapons of 
the barbaric order, and an utterly inde- 
scribable confusion of odds and ends, in one 
corner of the room. ' I had better have 
made a clean sweep of them along with the 
rest of the things, after all.' 

A meaning in his words, probably not 
intended by the speaker himself, struck 
Nugent rather sadly, but his reflections 
were cut short at that instant by the 
advent of dinner. 

The cook justified Archdale's praise, and 
as the latter's judgment in the matter of 
wines had always been more reliable than 
that of most of the ' fair young gentlemen, 



THE LONG LANE 99 

his peers/ by the time tlie walnuts ami 
olives were placed on the table, Nugent 
took a more roseate view of existence than 
he had done for soine time, as lie turned 
his chair towards the fireglow. 

As l)efore said, lie and Archdale had 
been fast friends since Eton days, and 
llaleigh's warning as to the non-endurance 
of boyish friendships had proved false in 
tliis case, as in many others; peril a p-^ 
because tlie two men's liking had never 
touched the point of passionate enthusiasm 
where friendship reaches love, and so often 
recoils into indiirerence. Had they first 
met as men, it might never have existed at 
all, but tlie store of old bc^yish memories- 
shared between them had strengthened 
the friendship into a cord, not cpiickly 
broken, and their reliance on each other'< 

II 2 



100 THE LONG LANE 

loyalty was strong, as it had been in boy- 
hood. 

To-night the spell of the past seemed 
to hold them both ; they called up old 
days, laughed over old scra})es and jokes. 
Perhaps neither man cared to talk of his 
life of the last few years, and Nugent did 
not wish to allude to that story of his 
friend's past, of which he had but a vague 
idea — but suddenly an accident brought 
him face to face with it. 

He had been lazily sauntering round 
tlie room, inspecting at Archdale's request 
some of his friend's new arrangements and 
possessions, when after looking at a picture 
above a table piled with heterogeneous 
matters, his eye fell on a photograph half 
concealed by loose letters and papers 
tossed above it. Some recof?nition of the 



THE LOX(i LAM-: lol 

brow and eyes — all he could see of the 
portrait — nuide liiiii instinctively take it 
up. 

' What are you looking at ? ' said Arch- 
dale, turning round where he sat, to flii) his 
cigarette ash int«) the grate. 'Oh, that! I 
came across it tliis morning, overhauling 
my despatch-box. You know who it is ? ' 

Yes, Nugent knew ; felt, somehow, as if 
lie had known it long, and that tliai which 
lie had dreaded had come upon him, as he 
gazed at Honor's portrait, hearing as from 
afar Archd ale's words : 

' My wife.' 

Yet, was it possible? He stood 
stupidly staring at the eyes which appealed 
from the picture to him and to his love, as 
though asking, 'Do you understand now?' 

Did he? some dim sense of the revolt 



102 THE LONG LANE 

of her nature, some instinct of the mean- 
ing of her passionate cry, ' You could 
not understand,' reached him, as he stood 
there, holding that poor, faded semblance 
of her in his hand, and heard his own 
voice saying naturally enough to Arch- 
dale — 

' I knew nothing about it, you know.' 
' No, you were abroad the whole time ; 
I suppose just because you were the 
one fellow I wanted and would have 
spoken to about it, and I never was good 
at writing. But you know as much as any 
one does, thanks to me. Here's the coffee 
— have some ? No ; a cliasse then ? ' 

His guest took the proffered glass of 
fin champagne ; the servant's entrance 
Avitli the coffee had given him time to 
collect his thousfhts. He must learn more 



THE LONG LANK 10 H 

of this strange game Fate had phiyecl 
with liiiii ; and in ti'utli Arclidale appeared 
wiUin^i- to enh^hten liini, as far as was in 
liis power. 

Nugent, standing by tlie mantelpiece, 
was stirred both by anger and a bitter 
cynical amusement, despite the turmoil 
of his own mind, as he marked Arch- 
dale's appreciative disposal of his coffee 
and cha^.se, and his deliberate selection 
of a cigarette, ere he began to tell the 
story of his marriage, of the wreck of 
Honor's life, as coolly as he might liave 
recounted his losses at Newmarket — or so 
it seemed to the other man's impatient, 
torturing pain. 

•How much have you heard?' Archdale 
asked, pulling up his chair to tlie lire and 
glancing up at Stephen, who stood near 



104 THE LONG LANE 

him, his hand moving his empty hqueur- 
glass backwards and forwards on tlie 
mantelshelf, his face turned away from his 
companion. 

' I suppose the same as most people ' — 
his very inward tumult, the anger and 
scorn Archdale's coolness woke within 
him, aided him to echo the latter's careless 
tone. ' That you married a wife and — you 
and she didn't hit it off.' 

Arch dale nodded. 

' That's about all anyone can tell you — 
I don't know that I can add much to it 
myself.' 

' Could your wife ? ' The strain was so 
hard, that he could scarcely believe but 
Archdale must note his unreal manner, his 
repressed eagerness ; but he did not. It 
was only by a strong effort Stephen forced, 



TIIK LONG LANE 105 

liimself to speak tlic words, ieelinL'" liiiiiscli 
a traitor to Honor to mention lier tluis, to 

listen while Archdale Oh, God! the 

whole world seemed without form and 
void. 

'I'm hanged if she could tell you more 
than I can, and that's the muddle of the 
whole aflair,' rejoined Archdale placidly. 
Let it be remembered that the story of his 
brief married life liad now been familiar to 
him nearly four years, thouirh Nuirent did 
not take this into account. ' You remember 
my writing to you about my engagement, 
and telhng you about Miss Denne and her 
step -mother,that pretty fair little woman — a 
cat if ever there was one — who afterwards 
married Sir Eobert Field? Haven't you 
ever met lier ? ' 

' Sometimes. 1 used to know Field 



106 THE LO>'G LANE 

rather well.' Strange that, after all, his 
life might nearly have touched Honor's in 
this London world that seemed so far re- 
moved from her. He remembered now 
to have heard that Archdale's wife was 
Lady Field's daughter. 

' Well, 'ware snakes, if ever you come 
across her path ! She chose, before I was 

married Oh, hang it, I'm a bad hand at 

telling a story from the right end — but 
you knew about me and Addie Vernon ? ' 

A slight weary movement of Nugent's 
gave assent. To hear of that woman 
dragged into Honor's story — oh I it was 
hard ! 

Well, when I broke off with her, of 
course, after her kind, she took to writing 
anonymous letters to Mrs. Denne, as she 
was then. She'd gone to the right person, 



TIIK LONC; LANE 107 

too. I'll 1)0 hanged if that woman,' (|iu)t]i 
Archdalc, with a virtuous indignation which 
aroused a moment's sarcastic amusement in 
Nugent — ' instead of flinf]fin<]j them into the 
lire, didn't ferret out the whole matter. 
It wasn't very difTicult ; there were men 
and women enough who could tell her all 
she wanted to know, and if she had come 
to me I'd have settled her soon enough, hy 
oilering to tell Xorah the whole affair, 
^wearing on my honour it was all off, and 
giving her her choice whetlier she'd have 
me or not. l^ut that wouldn't have suited 
my lady's game. She liked to think she 
had me, in a way, in her power, for she 
was quick enough to know that I saw 
through her; hut, all tlie same, she wanted 
to get rid of Norah, and she could do that 
through me. The girl had odd notions, 



108 THE LONG LANE 

and knew no more of the world than a 
baby, and I think Mrs. Denne was friglit- 
ened that, if it all came out, Norah would 
throw me over.' 

' Oh, Honor ! Honor ! poor child ! ■ was 
the sob of Nugent's heart. 

'What I believe she did, was just to 
poison the girl's mind against me, so as 
to make her keep a watch on me, as she 
would have done ' — something of Arch- 
dale's coolness left him now, as he rose, 
as if to emphasise his words. ' By God, I 
swear to you, Stephen, I can't understand 
it otherwise. You've known me long 
enough. Do vou think I could be un- 
kind to any woman, let alone a wife I had 
just married ? ' 

Unkind ? no ! but that he should be 
Honor's husband, when every word told 



TIIK LOX(.- LAXE 109 

how alion liis nature was to lit-rs, so tliat 
sympathy with her or comprehension of 
lier seemed utterly inipossi])lr to him ! 
Yet there was sometliing pathetic in Rex 
Arclidale's appeal, which wrung a loyal 
and kindly answer from Nugent, despite 
his own pain. 

' No, old boy ! ' lie could say no more. 

*Then what on earth made her act as 
she did, unless her step-mother had p-imed 
her to kee]) a sharp look-out on mc r — it's 
tlie only explanation. Addic, confound 
her, wrote a letter which followed me to 
Paris ; Honor must have got hold of it, and 
she left me in a lit of temper.' 

Archdale had so long accepted this ex- 
planation himself, that he had come to 
regard it as the established truth ; but as 
he went on to recount the circumstances 



110 THE LONG LANE 

under which Honor had left hhn, Nugent 
wondered yet more at the bhndness of this 
man, who knowing and loving Honor in 
his own way, could yet imagine her play- 
ing the spy on him, and not be sure that, 
had she deemed him guilty of faithlessness 
or treachery, she would liave told him so 
frankly. 

Stephen could understand the truth of 
her story better from Kex's idea thereof, 
built on a mistaken premise as to her 
nature, than he might have done other- 
wise ; even as a false hypothesis may, 
by its demonstrated absurdity, prove the 
truth. 

'And then?' he asked, as Eex paused, 
after telling him how on his return from 
the Gymnase, that night in Paris, he found 
Honor gone. 



TUK LONG LAXE 111 

* Well, I saw how matters were at once, 
and I started off after her. I knew she 
was up to no harm, and I felt I had been 
a fool to leave that letter knocking about. 
J3ut all tlie same, I didn't mean to let her 
off too easily ; I can tell you, I was in the 
devil's own temper with her for makiuL'' 
such a to-do and behaving like a mad 
woman. If I had caught her up, on the 
way, I suppose it would have been all 
riLdit; there would have been no end of 
a row, and we should have got on all the 
better after it ; but as luck would have it, 
I took the wrong route, and the day I got 
to London I found her flown. I'd been 
working myself up all the way over here, 
and had made up my mind, that, as she 
had chosen to leave me, so she miglit come 
back to me if she chose, but I wouldn't ask 



112 THE LOXG LAXE 

her to do so. She was in the wrong, not 
I, and she deserved " what for," ' 

Nugent sharply turned and walked up 
and down the room. ' Well ? ' he said at 
last, 

' Well, what I found in London made 
matters much worse. Instead of drawing 
out some money (her own was all settled 
on her), I'll be hanged if she mustn't go 
and make gossip by her folly, in getting 
her jewels from the bank and taking them 
to the jeweller's to sell. Of course, I 
hushed it up as well as I could, said it was 
all right, got the things back, and sent 
them to the bank as if nothing had 
happened ; but I always feel those fellows 
can talk about it. It made me so mad, I 
vowed I wouldn't take another step to- 
wards putting matters straight, I found 



TIIH LONG LAXE llo 

out soon enough whither she liad flown — to 
an old governess of hers, at a God -forsaken 
place somewhere near the Land's End. 
She couldn't come to mucli harm there.' 

' You never wrote, or went to lier, 
then ? ' 

'Confound it, no. It was she wlio liad 
made the fuss, and it was her place to come 
to me — besides, I didn't want lier back 
against her w^ill. But I did all I could to 
stop tongues. I went to Mrs. Denne and 
found that, so far, she had no idea of all 
the row, or whither Honor had gone. I told 
her that my wife was all right, and then 1 
thought she might as well hear a few 
wholesome truths, and told her it was all 
her fault, thouLdi I left her to guess ii(»w. 
Of course she wanted to know wheru 
Honor was, but I requested her to let tlie 

VOL. II. I 



114 THE LONG LANE 

poor girl alone ; Norah and I could manage 
our own affairs, and should end by being 
very good friends. I didn't let her guess 
how my wife had left me, and made her 
promise not to bother Norah, unless my wife 
wrote to her first. She's an awful coward, 
and I hinted that, if she did, I'd know the 
reason why ; and besides that, she was so 
afraid that Field or anyone should blame 
her, that she caved in at once, and I knew 
I could trust to her telling all sorts of lies 
I should never have thought of, to per- 
suade people there was no smoke, let alone 
no fire.' Archdale laughed grimly. ' She 
has lied too, like fun ; I've heard such 
stories she's told people of Norah's liking a 
country life and my devotion to sport, that, 
by Jove, I've admired her. But she's wasted 
on Field ; he's one of those men who would 



THE LONG LANE 115 

believe in her just the same if she told 
the truth.' 

' Was that how you went abroad ? ' 
'Yes; what was I to do at home? I 
couldn't quite go back to my old ways, and 
I thought my wife would come round sooner 
than she has done, and then if she found 
she had to wait a little before she could 
get at me by letter, or hear from me, it 
would do her no harm.' 

His tone, his words, jarred inexpressibly 
on Nugent, who yet saw through Rex's 
story, that the latter had shown no httle 
consideration for the wife who had left him ; 
no little carefulness for her fame. Better 
and wiser men than Arclidale would not 
have acted, in his case, as v/isely and well 
as he had done. Nugent knew how freely, 
in the vague disconnected accounts of the 

1 -J. 



116 THE LONG LANE 

story which he had heard, the blame had 
been lavished on Archdale, by those who 
knew nothing of the matter, save what Eex 
himself had chosen to say. 

Stephen recognised what Eex's words 
did not even imply, how carefully the 
young husband had shielded his wife from 
blame, with a chivalry, for which few men 
or women would have given him credit. 
Doubtless this trait had sprung from the 
same obstinate pride which made him 
resolute that the woman who had left him 
of her own free will should of her own free 
will return to him and acknowledge her 
fault ; but blended with this was that nobler 
instinct, he himself scarcely recognised, 
which better men than himself might have 
lacked, which forbade him to force back an 
unwilling woman to her place by his side. 



THE LONG LANE 117 

But his friend understood something of 
it, and this made him pause ere he asked 
Kex— 

' Did you care for her ? ' 

' More than I ever thought I did. And 
you never saw her. You can't tell from 
that photo, what she was really like. She 
beat them all hollow, I can tell you ; there 
was something about her, one couldn't 
forget. Sometimes now I see her eyes, and 
wonder what the end will be. I say, I've 
bored you with my affairs a full hour, and 
your throat must be as dry as a bone ; 
mine is, I know, with all this talking.' 



118 THE LONG LANE 



CHAPTEE XXVII. 

My soul, like to a ship in a black storm 
Is driven, I know not whither. 

VlTTOElA COEEOMBONA. 

'Was it true?' Ifugent found himself won- 
dering as h^ left his friend's house, ' or only 
the heated fancy of his brain ? ' 

Honor, Eeginald Archdale's wife I this 
was the irony of life. Till now, despite 
his knowledge of her marriage, she had 
seemed all his in thought. The vague 
image of the husband she did not love, had 
been enough, like a jealous ghost, to wave 
them back from Love's Eden — to make 
clasped hands and meeting eyes forbidden, 



THE LOXCJ LANE 110 

even as was any closer sacrament of love ; 
but it liad not been enough to prevent 
him holding her in his thoughts, with the 
memory of that moment's sweet madness on 
the rocks, wliich had made death seem 'soft, 
as the loosening of wound arms in sleep.' 

Now all was changed. It was Eex Arch- 
dale, the man he had known and liked so 
long, who had trusted him all these years, 
who held this right which Nugent could not 
deny, although his whole heart rebelled 
against it. 

A w^oman might have cried out, ' She 
does not love him ; he has no right over 
her ! ' Ihit tlie man's instinct admitted the 
husband's claim, even while his soul sick- 
ened at it. If things were diflerent, if he 
ignored that claim, and so, defying its 
power, won Honor — liis darling and Ids 



120 THE LONG LANE 

treasure — to have and to hold, despite the 
law of God and man — he would still feel 
the right lay with Eex, that he had stolen 
what was not his from his friend. 

' Oh, but is it not hard, dear ? ' that cry 
which finds an echo in the hearts of most 
men and women, at some moments of their 
lives, rose in a sob now, almost to Stephen's 
lips. He could not tell what he was to do ; 
it was all dark, dark as the murky, fog- 
reddened air around him. He tried to 
forget it all, for just a moment to remember 
Honor as he had seen her first, with that 
untamed, fierce, innocent bearing, which 
told of the untamed, fierce, innocent heart. 
It came back to him how those bright clear 
eyes had grown soft, that proud mouth 
tender, the whole lovely transformation 
a month had seen, which had made his joy 



THK LOX(J LAXE 121 

and ])ridc ; the guerdon of his love — his 
love of her who was Archdale's wife ! 

And with all his friendship for Rex, all 
his honest recojj^nition of the other man's 
loyalty and frankness and honesty, ever 
deeper sank the sting of the thought for 
her. She, married to Archdale, who had 
held and used w^omen as toys, who de- 
manded their price, and demanded no 
more, to whom the eternal womanhood had 
been an unknown word, undenied because 
unimagined ! 

Even now, Stephen could not under- 
stand how it had come about. Oh, 
he sui)posed Kex's good looks and bon- 
liomie had attracted the girl ; it was 
natural enough. But afterwards? As he 
thought of tliat poor child alone and 
amazed in Paris, with iliat man who had 



122 THE LONG LAXE 



SO little in common with her, the intuition, 
born of love, aided him only too easily to 
understand her wild flight, the outcome of 
her wild despair. 

And she was Eex Archdale's wife ! 

The words forced themselves into a 
grotesque refrain, set to the accompaniment 
of the London noises, the rolling of the 
wheels, the shouts of the drivers, as he 
made his way homeward through the frost 
and fog. She was his queen, his love, 
whose eyes were a living fire of scorn of 
base thought, or low desire. She was his 
darling, whose heart he knew held his 
strong idea for ever and aye as the inmost 
thought in that sweet shrine — and she was 
Archdale's wife ! 

He might end all this, if only, when 
the morning broke, he left behind him the 



THE LONG LAXE 123 

weariness, tlie fever, and the fret, where 
each man's moan is the echo of a thousand 
others, uncared for and unguessed of by 
him, and found his way again across those 
lonely moors to her. 

If lie did this, and, taking her in his 
arms, said, * Oh, I know all ; let the world 
go by, so you and I cling together,' surely 
she would not say him nay ! Micfht not 
this be the end ? as good an end as any 
other for him and for her — Archdale's wife. 

God forbid ! Let the world say what 
it would, that he heeded not ; but that 
her eyes should ever be less proudly pure, 
that the lines of those sweet lips should 
harden with shame, and that true soul 
be dragged down, degraded by him — a 
thousand times God forbid ! 

Yet the temptation abided. A dim 



124 THE LONG LANE 

feeling that Archdale's story forced action 
upon him, troubled him with unrest, till 
at last he fell asleep. 

And, in dreams, he saw Honor again, 
coming to him across the moor, trans- 
figured in the sunset ; the glory of the 
sky, and the clouds, and the deep, luiid 
glow of the heather like vapour and flame, 
around her ; and as she neared him, he 
read in the passion of her eyes, the triumph 
of her smile, the assurance that Archdale's 
tale was but a foolish, ghastly dream ; so 
wondered at his past trouble. She was 
free, and they drew nearer, nearer ; the 
night fell suddenly — and Nugent woke. 

Woke to the darkness of a London fog 
and the knowledge that his man had been 
into the room, with a candle, had left his 
shaving -water, and, finding his master 



THE LONG LAXE 12'") 

asleep, had vanished silently. Tliis was 
the stulVof Avhicli were made the glow and 
darkness of his dream. A short bitter 
laugli escaped him as he reahsed its tex- 
ture, but Honor's image did not fade so 
soon. 

All through the day it haunted him. 
pathetic, appealing, till he was fain to cry 
out, ' What shall I do ? ' as the instinct 
that his hour had come ever gathered 
force within him, even while he felt blind 
and helpless as to whither his steps were 
led. 

Oil ! weary day which, dragging out its 
bitter hours, found him, when the gloomy 
sunset reddened through fog clouds in 
the west, still brooding beside his studio 
tire. All round him, in the growing dark- 
ness, were the j)ale memories of those 



126 THE LONG LANE 

Cornish days. For hours he had been 
there, in fancy, remembering how each 
sketch had been painted, how Honor had 
pleasured in them, or criticised, with the 
true eye that long gazing at those chffs 
and waves had given her. 

Before him was a water-colour sketch 
of her face, half taken from memory and 
from pencil scratches made in his sketch- 
book, when she did not know. The little 
book was full of such hints of her beauty, 
from that first one he had made that day 
she had passed him on the heath ; the 
turn of her neck, the lovely line of cheek 
and ear ; the full curve of the eyehds 
when drooped, their clear slight arch 
above the eyes when her direct gaze 
grew fixed and intense ; all these met 
him again, as he listlessly turned over the 



THE LONG LANE 127 

leaves ; and now the book rested on his 
knee, open at one sketcli of her that re- 
called her look that night in tlie moon- 
light, when he spoke of his belief in a 
moment tliat sliould redeem, or condemn 
hfe. But how could this present moment 
possibly be his ordeal? He could do no 
good to Honor or himself; and as to Arch- 
dale — wliat did he owe him? what claim 
could friendship, honour, loyalty, put in 
here, before the mighty and terrible coun- 
tenance of love ? 

The fire fell in with a crasli ; a few- 
moments before, it had looked as an airy 
crimson palace, with glowing delicate 
minarets and spires, and arclics, roseate 
and transparent witli tlie liglit and heat 
which had shaped it into being ; now it was 
a black and red ruin, with a veil of fine 



128 THE LONG LANE 

grey ashes slowly gathering on the dull- 
ing cinders, which a minute before had 
been the heart of its heat and radiance. 

With a heavy sound, between a sigh 
and a groan, Stephen roused himself. He 
was engaged to a big dinner at his elder 
brother's ; he supposed he must go ; Essie 
would say it was his duty. 

Duty! the word suddenly struck him 
from the midst of his careless, half-sarcastic 
conclusion, like a separate thought, sharp 
and powerful, and mighty to avenge all sins 
against itself and the Eternal Law whereof 
it was the servant. As he had confessed 
to Honor, he had paid little heed to its 
voice through all these years ; and even 
now, he thrust from him the conviction 
that its bidding was speaking within him, 
in words which grew^ ever clearer and 



THE LOXG LAXE 129 

clearer, and would not be gainsaid, albeit 
he might disobey them. lie knew not 
how it was, that suddenly he saw tiic 
right path clear before him, and his heart 
cried out lie neither could nor would walk 
tlierein. It w\as so hard for liim ; hardc-i-, 
harder, and more terrible for lier ! 

He to force her feet upon the tliortis 
from which she shrank! He to bid her 
! No, he could not do tlii^ tiling. 

If this were duty, wdiy then Mephisto 
was the true critic of a world, where right 
could wear a face by the cynical smile and 
sneer of which, the sin which sinned o])enlv 
th rough love seemed lovely and noble. 
Duty! its right name was Juggernaut ; llu.* 
monster beneath whose car fair iinpul^e^ 
and instincts, beauty, strength, and youth 
were crushed into one sliapeless, riuivei-inL"". 

VOL. II. ^ K 



130 THE LONG LAXE 

hideous mass — to what avail ? What 
happiness, what good, should be wrought 
through tlie victim's agony ? 

God knew, he only wished the best for 
her : but this, which she dreaded as worst, 
could never be best. 

Ah, leave her as she was, in peace if 
not in happiness, her soul guarded from 
pain and peril, his thought still with her, 
although he might never see her face 
again ! 

And yet — and yet 

What right had he to wish this for her, 
Archdale's wife ? 

None ; his soul answered the question 
directly, sternly, through all the tempest 
within him of doubt and question, tempta- 
tion and struggle, and the passion which 
was awake with him, fiercer than it had 



THE LONG LANE 131 

been since tliat day Avlien its pain seemed 
to blind liini, as his lialf-conscious steps led 
him away from Honor, across tlie moorhuid. 
Strong and terrible it rose within liim now, 
to conquer or be conquered by the love of 
wliich it yet was part. 



K 2 



132 THE LONG LANE 



CHAPTEE XXYIIL 

Let the event, 
That never-erring arbitrator, tell us 
When we know all ourselves, and let us follow 
The becking of our chance.— Tico Nohle Kinsiiien. 

There must have been something wrong 
with Nugent's watch, or he must have 
dressed more quickly than usual, for when 
he arrived at his brother's house, the 
hands of the large Tompion clock on the 
staircase — one of his sister-in-law's, Isabel 
Nugent's, most cherished household gods, 
having been picked up for ' a mere no- 
thing' — pointed to a quarter to eight, and, 
on entering the drawing-room, he found the 
host and hostess alone, Mrs. Nugent still 
employed in drawing on ' the second of her 



TIIK LON(; LAXR 133 

almond Suude gloves, Avitli their iiiterniiiial »le 
buttons, and her husband enjoying a ha.^ty 
glance at the special Globe in the back 
room. 

' I'm glad it's yon, Steve,' he said, 
coming forward to welcome his brother ; 
* you are in good time for once in a way. 
Nasty night, isn't it ? Beastly fog ! ' 

' Abominable ! ' answered Stephen, witli 
what appeared like a grim satisfaction in 
the fact, in his tone. 

'I hope it won't prevent people 
coming,' said Mrs. Nugent, with some 
anxiety. ' Is it bad enough for that? ' 

' I don't think so, and it is a tliaw. 
thank goodness; ' both men laughed at the 
relieved expression of Isabel's face, as she 
returned to the smoothing down of her 
immaculate hand-Lfear. 



134 THE LONG LANE 

' It's all very well for you to laugh,' she 
observed, with perfect good temper, ' but 
you know as well as I do how horrid it is 
to have the table put out. Stephen, do be 
an angel and button this glove for me. 
George's fingers are all thumbs. Thank 
you. I hope it won't make people late,' 
she went on as, the operation completed, 
she went to the window and pulled aside 
the heavily-gathered blind of pale yellow 
silk, to judge of the dense air outside, with 
the glare of the gas-lights struggling 
through the fog, then wandered into the 
adjoining room to rearrange some flowers, 
which struck her eye as being wrong. 

The two brothers stood together, neither 
apparently much inclined to talk, the one 
examining his nails with profound interest, 
the other staring down with equal absorp- 



THE LOXG LANE 135 



tion at his shoes. At last George Xiigent, 
with an ellort, aroused himself to the ex- 
tent of uttering an exhaustive ' Well ? ' 

' Well ! ' echoed Stephen, looking up 
from the hearth-rug. 

His brother laughed. ' I'm afraid I'm 
as dull a5 the fog,' he said, ' but we are 
rather in a fix at the bank, and I don't see 
my way out of it.' 

Stephen was somewhat astonished at this 
confidence on his brother's part, as George 
was not apt to wax expansive about busi- 
ness to anyone. 

' Nothing serious, I hope ? ' 

' No ' — George broke into a cheery and 
comfortable laugh, which spoke volumes 
for the standing of the house of Nugent 
Bros. ' It's only a bother. Mitcheson — our 
Calcutta manager, you know — his health 



136 THE LONG LANE 

has broken up altogether. It's not the 
cHmate, but he never was a strong man ; 
and now, I should say, poor fellow, he 
won't last through the voyage, and we 
don't know whom to send out in his 
place.' 

' Can't you promote the head clerk out 
there?' 

• That's just what we don't want to do, 
if we can help it. I know the fellow ; he 
only went out there six years ago, and he 
is one of those men who make good ser- 
vants, but bad masters. He's up to the 
work thoroughly, but he has not enough 
weight ; and what one wants is a man to 
liave the authority and look after things 
generally. Of course,' said George, with a 
touch of old resentment, ' it's the place 
you ought to have taken-, as the governor 



Tlin LONG LAXn 137 

always meant. Ho never intended nie to 
have all the lialfpence.' 

' Or all the work, dear old boy,' an- 
swered Stephen, laying his hand for a 
moment on his brother's slionlder. lie 
was keenly touched by tlie generosity which 
he knew had always been at the root 
of George's vexation at his declining the 
place in the bank which had been left to 
his choice. Then the idea flashed on him, 
was tliis the way to cut the knot wliicli 
troubled him so sorely ? — to sever himself 
tlius utterly and assuredly from Honor for 
years ? The sudden resolve brought a 
sudden relief, as, without giving liimself 
time to consider, or doubt, or debate, lie 
said — 

' Could I take it now r " 

His brother stared at him as amused 



138 THE LONG LANE 

by the jest ; then, noting Stephen's face, 
asked — 

' Do you mean it ? ' 

' I suppose so. Yes.' 

'But you know nothing of the work.' 
The doubt showed his wish to overcome 
the objection. 

' I have an idea of it, and I think, if I 
set my mind to it, I could manage it.' 

'If you set your mind to it, yes — 
but what on earth has put it into your 
head after you have hated it hke poison 
all your life ? ' 

' Essie ! ' said Nugent, with a strange, 
short laugh. 

' I wish she had done so fifteen years 
ago, instead of helping to set you against 
it,' growled his brother. ' There's somebody 
coming; we'll talk more of it when they 



Till-: Loxc; LAxn 130 

liavc all <i()iie ; that is' — with a doubtful 
glance at his brother — ' if you are really in 
earnest.' 

Steplien wondered himself if lie were. 
Had he signed his own sentence of exile 
without reflection or forecast? lie w^as 
roused frc^ni pondering, however, by the 
announcement of Sir Eobert and Lady 
Field. 

He started : the curious way in which 
the facts of our lives sometimes gather, like 
waves, all towards one central point, struck 
him now. He had met Lady Field before, 
but had taken little note of her ; now he 
observed her with keen interest, as she 
entered the room, wondering what her real 
part had been in the story of Honor's 
hfe. 

* 'Ware snakes ! ' Was Rex's warning 



140 THE LONG LAXE 

born of prejudice, or of the discernment by 
which a man of his kind may divine a 
woman of the order to which he had 
represented Mrs. Denne as belonging ? The 
pretty, tender-eyed woman, who sat nearly 
opposite Nugent at dinner, with that lovely 
serenity of expression wherewith the con- 
sciousness of being the best-dressed woman 
in the room always dowered Agnes, 
looked as if she might, indeed, have been 
too young and yielding to be an ideal 
guardian for a girl; but gentle, sweet, 
affectionate — she must be these, surely ! 

Yet Eex had inferred that she had never 
possessed Honor's confidence. What was 
the truth ? 

As Stephen looked at her and noted her 
gaze at the man to whom she was talking, 
the evasive, caressing softness of the eyes, 



Tin-: i/).\(; i.ank 11 1 

tlie contrast between licr glance and Honor's, 
straightforward in shyness as in cand<»nr, 
struck him. One was falsehood, the other 
Iruth. In that memory of his love's, Agnes's 
face held no fairness for him. 

Mrs. ^tralian, who was sitting further 
down the table, opposite to Stephen, was 
less contented than ever witli her younuer 
brotlier's appearance. His next neiirhbour 
was a very young girl just out, and, 
although he paid her all needful attention, 
Esther coukl see the young hidy's shyness 
was by no means lessened by Xugent's 
evidently forced conversation. Mrs. Stra- 
han was amused and rather irritated. 
' What a miserable time she is having, poor 
child!' slie thought. 'He is nuiking her 
more nervous every moment by her con- 
viction that she is boriuL' him, wliereas lie 



142 THE LONG LANE 

is only boring himself. And he can be so 
pleasant ! I should like to shake him.' 

But since this benevolent desire could 
not be fulfilled, at all events at present, she 
devoted herself, when the ladies had left 
the dining-room, to Stephen's late com- 
panion, with such good effect in alleviating 
the agony of shyness which had grown on 
that damsel all through dinner, that, by the 
time the men made their appearance in 
the drawing-room, the girl was chatting 
freely to Mrs. Strahan, telHng her of 
her brothers at school, her study of the 
violin, her enjoyment of her enfranchise- 
ment from the schoolroom, with a frank 
confidence in her new friend's interest 
therein which pleased the elder woman. 
Stephen saw them as he entered the room 
— the sweet, kindly womanhood of his 



TnK LOXa LANE 143 

sister's face, the briglit freshness of the 
girl's, from -whicli all shyness and self- 
consciousness liad vanished. 

'You are a witch, Essie,' he said, with 
something of tender admiration, as later on 
he took the seat from which the poor little 
maiden liad been ousted l)y some request 
to come and look at some collection of 
etchings for which she did not care a 
straw. ' I tried to get on with that young 
lady, but failed. How did you manage? * 

' Not by looking like a wolf determined 
to play at being grandmamma,' retorted 
Esther sarcastically. 'I never saw you 
trying to make yourself amiable before, 
and I hope I never may again. If you 
can't be agreeable without sucli an effort, I 
should advise you to stay at liome.' 

Stephen laughed, but di(hrt seem in- 



144 THE LONG LANE 

clinecl to answer his sister's reproaches. He 
took up her fan and furled and unfurled it, 
till she, with some decision, removed it 
from his hands. 

' No,' she said determinedly. ' It was 
Geoff's birthday present, and is the only 
real old, valuable one I possess. I don't 
want it broken just to gratify your passion 
of fidgeting with sometliing or anotlier. 
I intended to give you a lecture after 
dinner, and tell you to go and try if 3^ou 
couldn't make yourself more pleasant to 
poor Miss Gresliam ; but I suppose you 
would rather talk to Lady Field ? ' 

The fine satire of Mrs. Strahan's tone 
was edifying ; it had that peculiar ring in 
it which, when one woman is alluding to 
another, means ' I know she is charming ; 
the whole world says so, and tlie world must 



THE LOXd LAXr. 14-J 

l)e riglit. If I don't agree -with it, tliat i> 
nothing.' 

' Why ? ' 

' Only that you were looking at her so 
often during dinner, I really meant to 
give you a second lecture on staring.' 

' You don't think she noticed it ? ' 

' She wouldn't mind it if she did.' Mrs. 
Strahan's powers of sarcasm were not large, 
and were exhausted for tlie present, as 
was proved by her reply to her brother's 
next question. ' Do you like her ? ' 

* I can't bear her ! I mean,' she ex- 
plained, rather penitently, ' I don't know 
much of her ; but I don't trust her, and 
I am sure she isn't true. Why, don't 
vou remember, it was that beautiful girl, 
her step-daughter, your fi'iend Archtlalc 
married, that year you were abroad r 

VOL. II. L 



146 THE LONG LANE 

You were mentioning it only the otlier 
niglit.' 

He wondered liow he kept his voice 
clear and natural, while his heart was 
throbbing so thickly that it seemed to 
choke utterance, as he answered, ' Well ? ' 

'Well, you never saw Honor Denne, 
but 1 did ; and I am sure that that 
woman' — quoth Esther, with a glance of 
very frank dislike at Lady Field, where she 
sat, her fair hair and her rich-hued brocade 
gown thrown out effectively against a large 
screen of stamped and gilt Spanish leatlier 
— 'I'm not abusing her just because she is 
pretty and fascinating, as you men always 
think we do, but her younger sister, Theo 
Searle, was a great friend of mine, and she 
used to say Agnes had been the worst 
yrant at home that a girl could be ; 



THK LOXci LANi: 147 

always iicjt her own way against tlio 
olliers, and never gave tlieiii an cxcii-r 
to grnnible.' 

' I don't see how tliat conld he,' said 
Nugent, witli some show of reason. 

* Tlien you liave never known a wonia!i 
who was both sehlsh and false. I know 
all the Jiainforllis were glad enough when 
Agnes married Mr. ])enne ; and Theo used 
to tell me of this girl Honor, and say she 
was sure Agnes was jealous of her and 
spited her.' 

Mrs. Strahan's schoolgirl epithet 
seemed amusingly inappropriate, as re- 
ferring to any ])ossible action of the fair, 
delicate-featured lady near then, lo(»king 
like a T.ij)|)o Lippi angel against the 
great gold screen ; but Nugent did not 
smile. 



148 THE LONG LANE 

' Then they went abroad,' continued 
Esther, ' and Theo went to India with 
her husband, and I never saw anything 
more of the Dennes till three years later, 
when Honor came out.' 

' You knew her then ? ' Oh cursed fate, 
that had stayed liim abroad that summer ! 
He might have met Honor ; they might 
have loved then, and life and fate and the 
world had all been changed ! 

' Whom ? Honor ? Yes ; but I never 
could see much of her. I remembered all 
Theo had told me, and other things I can't 
remember now, and I thought I should 
like to be friends with her. She was diffi- 
cult to get on with at first, but I felt there 
was something in her that was worth 
knowing ; and then she didn't look happy, 
and ' — a faint, pretty blush touched Mrs. 



Till-: LOX(i LANR 1 TJ 

Strahan's cheek — 'she was so beautirul. 
I used to wish you could — ])aint lier. 
Don't you remember how I wrote and 
wanted you to come liome? ' 

Yes, Steplien remembered. 

' Of course it's all so long ago now, and 
you mightn't have liked each other, and 
Geoffrey always teased me about matcli- 
making ; but I quite Iiated Mr. Archdale 
when I heard he was engaged to her. I 
couldn't really get to know lier well, for 
one never saw her alone. I am sure Mrs. 
Denne did not mean her to make friends 
with anyone, and that she brought about 
that marriage. The girl wasn't in love 
with her husband — she proved tliat; and 
unless she accepted liim because slie wa< so 
unliappy, ^\v<. Dcmuic ought to have kej)r 
her from inarrviiiLT a man slie ilid not care 



150 THE LOXG LAXE 

for, if she was such a child as not to know 
Letter herself.' 

' I suppose she Avas,' said Stephen. It 
sounded like an indifferent comment on 
Esther's story, but his sister's words, 
' sucli a child,' were to him tlie conclusion 
of the whole matter. 

Honor had been a child then ; she was 
one no longer, but a woman grown into 
her full being through these lonely years, 
in whom pain and love had both wrought 
tlieir work, and must work it till the end. 

' One thing,' Esther went on, ' I am quite 
certain of; that is, that Lady Field and her 
step-daughter know nothing of each other 
now ; and I am sure Lady Eield hates Mr. 
Archdale, though I can't tell why. I 
remember one day, wdien some tactless 
woman mentioned the Archdales to her, 



Tin: LO.N'Ci LANK 1 •"' 1 

she sighed tliat pretty Httle siuli and said, 
*' Poor dear Honor, if T had only known 
soon enonirh wliat T liave lieard of iiiiu 
since, I shonUl never liave allowed the mar- 
riage ! Though I'm alVaid my ])Oor cliild 
was so lieadstrong, she would have liad 
her own will in spite of me" — or some- 
thing hke that. She always generalises in 
that wijy when she doesn't know wliat 
to say. 

'"Women 'ware women,"' quoted her 
brother, with a hard, slight laugh. Esther 
looked up at him, rather pained and 
-urprised. 

* Do you think I am ill-natured.^' she 
asked, some humiliation in the <piestion. 

lie glanced across at Lady Fit-ld, 
noticed the close lines of tlu* li|)s, thin as 
those of a Leonardo jxntiMit, the n;irrow 



152 THE LONG LAXE 

forehead under its sinning mist of hair, the 
j)ointed dehcate chin, the kistrous eyes. 
'No, Esther,' he answered, 'I think what 
you say must be true.' 

' Will you come down to the smoking- 
room, Steve ? ' said his brother wdien tlie 
guests had departed, ' and we will go on 
with what we were talkini^ about, thouo-h I 
can't believe yet, you mean it.' 

' But I do ! ' said Stephen. 

' Eight ! then come along. Of course 
it can't all be settled in a minute, and 
anyjiow, the house and you must both take 
time to consider it ; but talking it well over 
now will make that all the easier.' 



THE LON'G I.ANE 153 



CHAPTER XXIX. 

AVe are ne'er like angels till our passions die. 

Decker. 

Tin:Y dill talk il well over; with such 
results that when Stephen left the house, an 
hour later — despite his brother's reiterated 
advice to liiin, to be sure of his own mind 
before he decided, and his warning that 
the bank would also have to consider the 
matter — the younir man felt his fate was 
lixed, and a strange nunibnc^^ <>f regret 
ached within him. 

Perhaps it Avas better so, if only 
because of this idea, wiiich he could 
scarcely explain, yet which possessed him. 



154 THE LONG LANE 

that he must throw all his past life behind 
him. 

Only a few weeks ago he had laughed 
at Essie for thinking that money-making 
would prove a remedy for the unrest of his 
being, and yet to-night he had himself 
sought its help ! 

Not, however, as a cure for his ill ; but 
because of the sheer need he felt of leaving 
England, while knowing well that wander- 
ing about in his old dilettante fasliion, at 
liis own 2^1easure, with no fixed object, 
would be intolerable. He had known at 
last the one woman who might be to him 
the fulfilment of all his old yearnings, his 
vague desires. She being forbidden to 
him, how could he tread the old paths 
which, having once seemed to lead him to 
her, would now guide him further and 



TIIK l.o.VCJ LAM-: 1 



J -J 



furtlior away ? — wliitluT he know not. No, 
a thousand times no; it was all of no 
avail, this life which would have been ho 
lovely, with her for its soul. 

'Art for Art's sake!' It miijht liave 
been so once, could never ])e now. 
Neither his eunnin;^ nor his love of art was 
stronii enoULdi to make it stiilice unto him. 
The knowled^re had L^rown slowly on him 
duriuL' these months, in which he had yet 
])ainted better tlian ever before. 

Yet it was liard to Ldve it all uj) ; 
albeit he knew the old and)ition was dead, 
its memory was still dear. He reached 
home, let himself in, and takin^r a lamj) 
unlocked the studio door. 

All the past years rose up in him as, 
lam]) in hand, he stood before one ])icture 
after another. Jud<,^ed by the work ol 



156 THE LONG LANE 

other painters, themselves far from great, 
these paintings, the best he could achieve, 
were poor, crude, wretched. He could no 
longer see the qualities which gave his 
work real charm and value. 

He might have done better — yes, if he 
had toiled as had those other men, with 
liand and heart, soul and brain, from early 
youth — but now a voice within him cried, 
' Too late.' He had not been faithful in 
few things, how could he hope to be made 
ruler over many things ? He had wasted 
his youth, idly, pleasantly wasted it ; if 
painting might once have been his work, it 
could never be so now. 

He knew his task to-night, the hardest 
Life had ever set him ; yet, which he could 
not shirk as he had shirked many of her 
commands that had seemed to deal with 



THE LONG LANE 157 

him alone. It must be done, the quicker 
the better, but Avliy must the stroke fall on 
Honor ? Why must the heaviest burden, 
the sorest pain, be hers, if she obeyed him? 
Him, wlio felt each throb of her pain 
^vorse than his own. 

In a dull, heavy manner, he sat down 
to the writing-table, and took up a pen. 
He had longed so often to write to her, 
and now this desire was granted him 
— as desires often are granted, in this 
world, a bitter expiation of tlieir indul- 
gence. 

But no words blotted the page before 
him : thoujih he sat there lonf]f, starinrr at 
the white blank sheet of paper, which 
should be tlie messenger of pain and doubt 
and struggle to Honor. Honor ! Honor ! 
her name rang through him ; so sweet, so 



158 THE LONG LANE 

sweet, so sweet ! and then, ' I can't ! ' burst 
from him, and he broke down. 

In the silence and the night, with only 
the small lamp shining through the gloom, 
tlie passion and frustrated hope of his 
parting with Honor ; the long unrest of 
tlie dreary autumn months ; the shock of 
Archdale's story ; the long hard fight 
waged with himself, through these wintry 
hours ; temptation, struggle, resolve — all 
these found vent in the storm wdiich shook 
through him, unrestrained and unresisted, 
at last. 

But when it had passed, his way lay 
clear before him, even while he shrank 
back, doubting his own power to tread it. 

No written word of his would move 
lier ; he must go to her and plead with lier 
himself — he, the man who loved her, must 



yet urge licr husband's right. — Was lie 
strong enough fur this? 

Wliy not ? lie was a man, l)ut was 
manhood to be only the sign of brute 
weakness, as of brute strength, rather 
than of self-reverence, self-knowledge, self- 
control? She had appealed to him as 
better, wiser, and stronger than herself; 
w^as he to prove ignoble, selfish, untrue 
alike to himself, his friend, and to her, on 
that one plea of his manhood, which should 
itself degrade tliat numhood and stamp it 
as base ? 



160 THE LONG LANE 



CHAPTER XXX. 

Alas ! how oft in dreams I see 
Those eyes that were my food, 

Which sometime so delighted me, 
That yet they do me good ! 

Eael of Surrey. 

' Do you know where Miss Honor is, 
ma'am? I've been searching for her all 
over the place.' 

Mrs. Eoss, placidly toasting her feet by 
the fire, and enjoying the last volume of 
Max Mliller, looked up from her book, at 
Ruth's inquiry. The brief December day 
was drawing to a close, and the level red 
line of the sunset could be seen from the 
window of the room ; that little parlour, 
where stood the old spinet, already this 



THE LOXG LANE 101 

afternoon only a dusky shape, in tin- 
gatherinL^ darkness. 

'I think she went out, ah)nL' tlie chfl : 
do you want lirr, Kuth ? ' 

* It's only I've mixed the Christmas 
j)uddinL', ma'am, and she ought to stir it 
for hick. Yes, tliere slie is,' said Kuth, 
L'oin^ to the window, from wlience she 
could descry a tall, slendei* form, on tlie 
sere moorhand, and thrown out by the 
darkening sky. 'I'll go and call her in.* 

Mrs. Koss sighed as the door closed 
behind lluth. She had been strangely 
thoughtless and unwary through those 
June and July days ; but autumn and 
winter had brought to lier, only too 
clearly, the sense of her folly. 

She knew the meaning of Honor's drag- 
ging step, and of the acliing sadness and 

VOL. H. ^[ 



162 THE LONG LANE 

passion of her gaze ; knew how Honor's 
Hush of girhsh beauty and gladness, which 
had so rejoiced her in the summer, when 
she did not reck of its cause, had died 
away into a restless, despairing unhappi- 
ness. Oh, would that fate had never 
that night driven Stephen Nugent to their 
door I 

Meanwhile Euth, bare-headed and bare- 
armed, with rolied-up sleeves and wooden 
spoon in hand, had made her way through 
the keen east wind to where Honor stood, 
motionless, her gaze fixed on that tossing, 
leaden waste of waves. 

' Miss Honor, do for mercy's sake come 
in, and leave off staring at the sea, as 
though you'd bring about a wreck. You'll 
draw a ship here, on these rocks, with 
your eyes, if you don't take care.' 



THE LONG LAXK 163 

Honor turned round, a gliost of her old 
smile on her lace at the woman's fancy. 

' There are wrecks enough, Kuth, with- 
out our willing them.' 

' God knows it ; so let Him take care of 
them, and do you come in, Miss Honor. 
There's the pudding needs stirring and 
wishing over, or it won't bring luck to any 
of us.' 

' Will it with wishes ? ' asked Honor, 
listlessly following Paitli to tlie house, and 
entering, by the back door, into the large, 
low kitchen, where the fire sparkled and 
glowed, the candles stood ready lit on tJie 
dresser, and on the tal)le was the large, 
cream-hued pan, containing the pudding 
mixture. On the fire, a huge saucepan 
of boiling water was already bubbling a 
low song of rai)ture, as though waiting to 

M 2 



104 THE LONG LANE 

embrace its bride, the pudding, when she 
was duly enveloped in her bridal veil, the 
fair white cloth, lying ready on the table. 

Christmas, if its observance had been 
left to Mrs. Eoss and Honor, might have 
been shghted at Trebarva, but Euth's 
Cornish conservatism found expression in 
lier Yuletide preparations. To-day had 
seen the arrival of the Polmouth carrier 
with Euth's commissions, entrusted to him 
some days before ; and so it came to pass 
that the kitchen wore a really festive as- 
pect, with its goodly wreathing of greenery. 
Laurel, holly, and arbutus bright with its 
rosy fruit decked dresser and mantelshelf; 
while Joshua, on his accustomed settle by 
the fire, was devoting himself to the gar- 
landing with evergreens, of wooden hoops, 
fixed crossways in couples, one inside the 



TIIK LON(i LAXn IG-J 

Other, and liung- Avilli aj)j)les and oranges. 
These hoops, wliicli are a common West 
country fashion of Christmas decoration, 
^vere beinL^ wreathed on such a scale of 
splendour, and with such lavish bravery 
of roughly-made roses of Avliite and red 
tissue-paper, that Honor felt they impera- 
lively demanded her tribute of admira- 
tion. 

* Yes, I think they are fme sure/y ! ' 
said Joshua, with a meditative and modest 
appreciation of his work, Ijalancing tlie 
half-Avreatlied hoops in one hand and the 
reel of wire wherewith he was binding 
them, in tlie otlier, ' and so does Annie.' 

Annie Crocker, a small black-eyed 
maiden, the daugliter of a neighbouring 
fisherman, retained for tlie day l)y Itiitli. 
to minister unto lier in such matters as 



1G6 THE LONG LANE 

stoning raisins and chopping suet, was 
looking on with an inward amazement and 
dehght, heightened by the remembrance of 
the heavy-cake, rich with plums and spice, 
now baking in the oven, which would pre- 
sently glorify the kitchen tea-table. 

These were not the only signs of 
Christmas festivities, or of Euth's exertions 
in their cause. On the side table stood a 
large saffron cake, upturned on a sieve that 
the steam might escape ; and close to it 
was a pilchard pie of equal worth and size, 
together with a piled-up dish of soda buns, 
another of potato pasties, and a splendid 
junket. It was Euth's one yearly chance 
of entertainment, and she availed herself 
well of it, and of Mrs, Eoss's sanction 
thereof 

'Whom are you having to dinner 



THE LOXf; LANK KiT 

to-morrow, liulh?' asked Honor, havin<f 
duly recognised Josliua's liandiwork. 

' The Harrisons, Miss Honor — he's the 
new coastguard man at L^-nion, and turns 
out to be an old mate of Joshua's, when he 
was on tlie "Lion." They have five chil- 
dren, and the mistress said they could all 
come; then there's my cousin, Tom Thomas, 
from Jericho' — a farm near Polmouth, so 
named, it was supposed, in Puritan times — 
* Mrs. Eoss says he may sleep here, else he 
could ne'er drive the twenty miles back ; 
and Annie Crocker, if she minds herself,' 
— witli a severe glance of warning at the 
unfortunate Annie, one of the meekest and 
handiest of children, and with a wliolesome 
awe of Mrs. liutli. 

' Now, Miss Honor, dear,' said the pre- 
siding priestess of tlie mysteries, with an 



168 THE LONG LANE 

unusual tenderness, seeing how pale the 
n-irl's face showed in the bright firelight, 
' stir and wish,' tendering, as she spoke, the 
large wooden spoon. 

Honor laughed sadly : she knew only- 
one wish ; that which had been wringing 
her heart so long, the craving to see 
Nugent once again. Stirring the plum 
pudding would scarce bring that to pass. 
'What shall I wish, Euth?' she asked. 'A 
new gown for you ? ' 

' You mustn't tell, miss, or it won't 
come about,' eagerly interrupted Annie, 
lier sense of the awfulness and importance ol 
the rite overpowering even her fear of 
Euth and her shyness of Honor. 

' Won't it ? ' said Honor, looking kindly 
at the child. Christmas was still a joy to 
this little girl ; a joy to Euth and Joshua, 



THE LONG LAXR 169 

after all their years of luml toilsome life ; 
while to her Ah, if he were but here ! ' 

The louring, always consciously or 
unconsciously present in her mind, liad 
involuntarily taken form, even as she list- 
lessly stirred the contents of the ])an. 

' Have you wished?' asked Annie du- 
biously, but respectfully. Honor dropped 
the spoon and stood, lingering a spray 
of arbutus with its waxen flowers and 
berries, which were as a mockery of 
summer fruits. 

She started. 'Yes, Annie,' she answered, 
' though I did not know it till I had done 
so.' She left the kitchen and went upstairs 
to where Mrs. Koss was quiet in the twi- 
hght. 

Christmas Day broke clear, but not 
very cold, althougli a slight ])owdering of 



170 THE LONG LANE 

snow veiled the brown waste land. From 
her room, Honor when she woke could 
hear Euth's and Annie's voices sinmnc^ in 
perfect accord : 

I spied three ships come sailing by, 
Come sailing by, come sailing by — 

the jubilance of the carol being succeeded 
by the graver air and mood of ' Good King 
Wenceslaus.' 

It was all apart from her : their Christ- 
mas greeting, as she came downstairs, fell 
on her heart as coldly as the snow on the 
dry heather outside ; she hated herself for 
it, yet could not lielp it ; she felt numb 
and dead. 

Mrs. Eoss and she exchanged no special 
salutation, but Mary's ' good morning ' was 
perhaps tenderer than usual. 

' You won't go to church, through the 



THE LONG LANi: 171 

snow, I siq^pose?' said Honor, after break- 
fast. ' I am sure it is too long a tramp for 
you to Lynion.' 

' Perhaps so ; is it snowiuLT now ? ' 

'No, but the sky is very heavy, and it 
may come down at any moment. I am 
SoincT for a wander amoni: the rocks. It 
is so seldom one sees them white, I shall 
enjoy it.' 

' Don't lose your way, whatever you 
do.' 

' Oh, no ! it isn't thick enough for 
tliat. Take care of yourself till I come 
in.' 

Tlie wind had fallen, the air was still 
and cliill, as Honor crossed the moor, Dan 
springing along in front of her. There 
was a certain cxliilaration in tlie day, and 
Honor's step was lighter, the ache of lier 



172 THE LONG LAXE 

heart less sore, till she came to the glen 
Stephen had named her garden. 

The little spring which had laughed to 
them in the summer, through its garlands 
of honeysuckle and bryony, now fell with a 
desolate sound, down to the stones of the 
beach, between the dead branches and 
shrivelled bramble-leaves, still stretched 
across its path. 

It all came back to her then, her joy 
and her sorrow, blent with the quick living 
shame which had grown part of both, with 
the knowledge that the marriage-bond, 
which had only been the shackle of a 
slavery slie could not bear and must break, 
at what cost it mattered not, might have 
been to her, as to other women, the sacra- 
ment of life — and love. 

The remembrance of the mockery of 



THE LONG LAXK 173 

tliat sacrament, the shame of it, were all 
the more terril)le to this woman, who had 
k'ariied what love was, wliat marriage 
ought to be — too late. 

She turned away from her Avitliered 
garden — that garden which would never 
more be itself to her, how^ever sweetly 
foxglove and honeysuckle might blossom 
again, in the summer that would surely 
come — and took the path towards Lynion, 
when she saw a figure in the distance, 
which made her ste})s to halt, so thickly 
did her heart beat. Slie was afraid to trust 
her sight ; there was a surging in lier ears, 
her head was dizzy, her eyes swam ; but 
Dan, surer of his instincts, sprung forward 
to welcome Stephen back with riotous 
delight. 

They stood face to face, he and slie. 



174 THE LOXG LA^E 

each seeing their own pain, endured through 
these long^ months, reflected in the other's 
eyes. 

Honor spoke first, her voice half whis- 
per, half sob : 

' I knew you would come ; I wanted 
you so much ! ' 



THE l.OS'O LAKE 175 



CHAPTER XXXI. 

1 f the sense i» hard 
To alien ears, I did not epeak to these j 
No, not to thee, but to thyself iu me. 
Hard is my d<i('m and thine : thju know'st it all. 

Love and Duty. 

Hk had braced himself for every tiling — 
but this. Strangely enough, he had never 
thought how the severance and sorrow 
might work on her, so that tlie surround- 
ing solitude v/hicli slie liad once loved 
sliould grow liateful to Jier, the sound of 
the sea seem but the echo of her own pain, 
waking her in tlie morning, with liatuful 
reiteration, sobbing even tlirough her 
dreams. lie had never imagined tliat 
she, who so l>rav(jly Mcnt liim from her, 



176 THE LONG LANE 

would thus welcome him, the need of her 
life, too dear to be resisted, be the end 
what it would. 

He knew she was ignorant of what the 
meaning of her words might prove, if he 
willed it so ; yet, none the less, they 
appealed to him, and it was some time 
before he could gather strength to answer 
her, and crush down all the old self which 
rose within him, crying desperately, pas- 
sionately, selfishly : ' I love her — let us 
be!' 

How pale and thin she was ! It was a 
sobering shock, as he marked the change 
the months had wrought in her. Sweeter 
than ever ! yes ; but the delicate line of 
the cheek was more distinct, the lips 
bloomed more deeply from the paleness 
in which their flower . was set, and the 



THE LOXCJ LANE 177 

<ireat eyes shone under the hulluwed 
brows, mournful even now, despite their 
momentary jiladness. So it was, he saw 
her again. 

' I have come — ' he began, then stopped. 
How could he tell her ? 

Her quick ear caught the harsh, 
strained ring of his voice. ' What is it ? ' 
she asked, looking at him, a new terror 
in her face. ' Why are you here ? What 
have you come to say ? ' The dread of an 
unknown evil was upon her. 

The presentiment of her question made 
his task easier, yet thrice he strove for 
words and they would not come. 

They were standing by the crags of the 
clilT's crest ; the sea-wind had swept away 
the lightly-lying snow from the huge rocks, 
leaving their weather-stains and tawny 

VOL. n. N 



178 THE LONG LANE 

lichen-patches clear, as in summer ; Honor's 
hand steadied her, as she stood looking at 
Nugent, with a desperate terror of what 
his words might mean, one slender arm 
propping her against the masses of the 
storm-beaten grey rock. Even so, the 
hand trembled, but her voice was firm, 
though low, as she asked — 

' What is it ? Why are you afraid to 
tell me ? I can bear it.' 

' Forgive me first ! ' he faltered. 

Only her look answered him, but it 
made him quiver with the rarest touch 
of pain ; it meant that nothing he could 
do or say could need her pardon. Life 
or death at his hands — let either come. 

He never knew how he told her what 
he had learned of her story, through his 
meeting with her husband, saying nothing 



THE LONG LANE 179 

of Archdale's idea of lier reason for leavincr 
hiin, but, as lie had schooled himself to do, 
dwelling rather on Ilex's lo3^alty and faith 

in her, his obstinate pride, his wish 

Here for a moment Nugent could say n(j 
more. 

He could not see Honor's face ; in her 
agony of shame she had turned away, and 
was clinging, half standing, half crouching, 
to the rock for support. For all his tender- 
ness, Stephen's words fell on her heart 
burning Hke drops of molten metal. He 
hear of her from Rex ! — listen to her story 
from his lips ! In the madness and torture 
of the thought her head sank between her 
hands on the rock, while, as from afar, she 
still heard Stephen's voice. 

Xo ! tliis must be a horrible delirium ; 
she could n(jt hear ari<dit. It could not be 

c 

\ -2 



180 THE LONG LANE 

he was urging lier to go back to her 
husband. 

As the truth forced itself upon her she 
roused herself at last, and looked up at 
him, a dumb wrath and reproach in her 
eyes. 

' You ! you ! ' she gasped. 

He felt all her meaning, and answered 
wildly, almost fiercely — 

' Yes — I — because I felt I must. Don't 
you know what it is to me to say this, and 
how I fought against the feeling, that it is 
the only right thing to do? It is worse 
than death to me, for I am you.' 

' You cannot be,' she answered in a 
smothered tone, ' or you would know all 
this means.' 

She paused, as gathering strength to 
overthrow all instinct of reserve ; then went 



TIIR LON(J LAXR ISl 

on, witli tlie reckless truth tliat desperation 
will sometimes wrinL^ from a woman who 
has held herself to herself for years — 

' If I had never met you, I don't know 
but perhaps some day I might have felt I 
had d(^ne wrong — it didn't seem wrong 
then — and tried to make it right, if he 
wished it, as,' she faltered, * you say he 
does ; but now — oh, how can you tell me to 
do this?' 

Ah ! how could he ? Was it not hard 
enough already, without her sobbing re- 
proach, born of the anguish he felt, but 
dared not soothe ? Tender words were 
traitors to his purpose and to her. He had 
never known liow fair slie was, or how dear, 
till iliat piteous question came from lier 
quivering lips. 

* If you must hate me,' he said, * hate 



182 THE LONG LANE 

me ; it is better so ; but listen why I say 
this.' 

His words touched her better, tenderer, 
stronger self, swift to answer any appeal 
to it. 

'I could not hate you,' she answered 
faintly ; ' I know you say this because you 
believe it right. I know it is pain to you, 
perhaps the same pain as it is to me. It is 
only myself I hate, for it is all my fault you 
are unhappy.' 

' No, Honor, never that.* 

She went on as though she did not liear 
him. 

' If you had not met me this could not 
have happened. All my fault,' she re- 
peated, with a sudden wild sob. ' It can 
never be right again ; but leave me here^ 
alone.' 



THE LONG LANE 183 

Alul yet liL' plc'iulccl to her, feeling all 
the while he must break out in a liullow, 
bitter lauL'h, at the barren futility of hi.-* 
ar<finnents. 

Arguments, forsooth, between him and 
her I truisms, worthy of a lawyer's clerk, as 
to a contract being binding, even when 
signed in ignorance of its meaning, and 
calm statements as to a husband's rights : 
prudent considerations as to what her life 
must be ; Archdale's merits, &c., ^^c. — all 
these he had duly determined to urge 
when he met her, lest in that hour it should 
not be given him what to speak. 

He had learned his task, but it faltered 
on his tongue, as he could fancy the scorn 
in her eyes, that were turned away from 
him to watch the lieaving waters and tlie 
llight of the gulls, that swooped unhastiug. 



184 THE LOXG LAXE 

unresting, above the waves. What were 
these poor platitudes here, in her presence, 
]3efore that one truth of their two hearts, 
liers and his, aching, loving, divided for 
ever by these maxims wherewith he strove 
to preach them down ? And yet he spoke, 
feeling that what he urged was best for 
her, though knowing such reasons as he 
gave, the morals of Mr. Worldly Wiseman, 
would avail nothing with Honor. 

She looked up as he ceased, with a faint 
scornful smile, as in contempt for the love 
that could deal with her thus, or dream 
such pleas had power over her nature. 

' Anyone could have said this,' she 
answered, her voice ringing clear and bitter 
and passionate, ' as well as you. You leave 
it all to me ; you try to persuade me it is 
for my good ' — she dwelt on the last word 



THE LOXCJ LAXE 185 

witli an utter j)aiii aiul scorn. ' And if it 
were, wliat is good or liarni to nie ? If 
you liad even said, " Do it for my sake ! " ' 
There was a silence, except for tlie cries 
of the sea-gulls, tlie dull, plunging thud of 
the waves on the rocks below ; no cfleam 
of sun lit the grey wintry sea, the grey 
wintry sky, and all around them spread 
the dry waste of heather, witli its veil 
of snow. Xugent saAv it all ere, school- 
ing his voice to self-control, he spoke 
again. 

J ' If you will have it so — yes ; for my 
sake as for your own. There can be only 
one other end to this — for we love eacli 
otlier. Save me from lowering tlie woman 
I love ; for even in my eyes you would be 
lowered if tliat end came. And for me, I 
should be so vile you would learn to 



186 THE LONG LAXE 

hate me as I deserved. Honor, save us 
both.' 

The words sounded brutal to him, even 
as he uttered them, yet, God help him 
and her, they were the truth. Then 
came a long pause, and if a girl's heart 
seemed to her to break therein — who 
could tell? 

She did not look at him as once, before 
the word came from her — ' Go ! ' 

' Honor, not so, not so ! ' 

She gazed at him strangely ; then, like 
a ghost looking back on life, ' I will do itt' 
she said. 

As though his doom was spoken, he 
moved sharply away ; then turning again, 
his passion sweeping through him, he fell 
at her feet, pressing to his brow, his hands, 
his lips, his heart, the rough serge of her 



THE LONG LANE 187 

<^To\vn, in an a^jon}^ of farewell. His saint, 
his darling, transfigured, to his eyes, 
through her pain. 

' I will do it,' she repeated : ' but go, it 
is all said now.' 



188 THE LOXG LA.N'E 



CHAPTEK XXXII. 

A long, long road of pain, my dear, 
A long road full of pain. — Caeltle. 

Honor never knew how long she sat there, 
in the chill December day. Only one fact 
pressed on her brain : Stephen had gone ; he 
and she had bidden farewell for ever. 
Before, when they had parted, for all tlie 
bitterness, there had not been this aching 
of a hopeless pain which must be endured ; 
a weight on lier heart, numbing her youth 
and womanliood into an apathy, in which 
alone it seemed she could find rest. 

Some shadow thereof had fallen on her 
last July, when he had left her, but then 



THE LONG LAXE 189 

the hot rain of tears liad thawed tlie death- 
cold which seemed steahn^i on lier heart. 
Now she sat mute, with wide, tearless eyes, 
fixed across the moor, to where tlie sky 
met the level line of the land, while her 
hand mechanically plucked tlie short, dry 
blades of a patch of turf, set among tlie 
rocks beside her. 

Across the still air came the faint 
sound of the bell of Lynion church, ringing 
for Christmas Day. She drew in her breath 
with a sharp sound, between a sob and a 
cry. Dan, who all this time had been lying 
at her side, restless and uneasy, but not 
interfering, looked up wistfully, but she 
did not heed him, and so the hours slipped 
away. 

At last she rose, dragging weary, list- 
less feet along the path Stephen and she 



190 THE LONG LAXE 

had trodden, in the glow of the summer 
sunset, that evening she had first reahsed 
how sweet, how near, how dear, his friend- 
ship had grown to her, and when the 
windows of the old house caught the fire 
of tlie west and seemed all ablaze within, 
with triumph and festivity. Something of 
a semblance in the memory, to the facts of 
her life, struck her now. 

All through the day, she moved about 
as in a trance ; or like a prisoner, who 
knows the morrow brins^s his death. Mrs. 
Eoss noticed nothing amiss, but Euth was 
troubled within herself. 

Slie had always divined far more of the 
liirl's history than either Honor or Mrs. 
Eoss suspected. She remembered the 
sliine of the wedding ring on Honor's 
ung^loved hand, when .she first stood in 



THE LONT. LAXR ^U] 

the lanii)liglit at the door of Trebarva, 
aud she had only inLssed it two days 
later. 

Mrs. Harrison, the coa.stsruard's wife, 
had just astonished and rather troubled 
her by the information that a gentleman 
had ridden over from Polmouth the night 
before, and was at the Lynion Inn, a queer 
j)lace to drag down to on Christmas Eve ; 
but Mrs. Fall had told her it was tlie 
painter gentleman, who was down here in 
the summer, before Harrison Avas moved 
over here from Penzance, and who used to 
be so nuicli at Trebarva. ' I suppose,' 
ended Mrs. Harrison, * he'll be cominir 
over here to-day, to eat his Christnuis 
dinner with your ladies.' 

So Ruth also supposed, but it disturbed 
her. She liad not been blind to tlie change 



192 THE LOXG LANE 

these six months had wrought in Honor. 
She, as well as Mrs. Boss, knew how the 
girl's step had lost its spring, her voice and 
look their brightness ; nor was she at a loss 
to guess the cause thereof. 

After some deliberation, while she 
basted the beef and mixed the batter of 
the Yorkshire pudding, she wiped her 
floury hands and was proceeding to the 
parlour, to inform her mistress of Mr. 
Nugent's return to Lynion, when she met 
Honor just entering by the front door. As 
the girl passed her, Euth was startled and 
frightened by her look. What did its dull 
wretchedness mean ? 

'She has seen him,' the woman thought. 
' Why hasn't he come back here with her ? 
It's not my business to tell the mistress 
now, but a plague take him for coming 



THE LONG LAXE \[):] 

hero and troublinj^f that jxxn- child I .My 
mind always misgave me, those traipsintrs 
about the moors and talkinjr of all thin<'s on 
heaven and earth, would end in nought 
Init a mort o' pain for her. It's always the 
same.' 

Late in the aftornoon when slie entered 
the west parlour, she noted how Honor 
was sitting by the fire. She held a book 
in her hand, between lier and the blaze, 
and its boards curled outwards, towards 
tlie heat ; but, for over an hour, she had 
not turned a page. 

'I beg your pardon, ma'am; will you 
and Miss Honor pay us a visit in tlu 
kitchen now ? ' 

'Certainly, Ruth,' and Mrs. Ross laid 
down hor book, — ' unless you have a head- 
ache. Honor ? ' 

VOL. II. 



194 THE LONG LANE 

She lifted lier head and rose. ' No,' she 
answered, ' I am all right. Let us go.' 

The kitchen was bright enough, when 
they entered it, with the shining of its 
green bravery, and with Annie Crocker 
and the infant Harrisons flushed from a 
wild orgy of oranges, nuts, and mulled 
elder wine, and scarcely believing their own 
bliss. Joshua, Harrison, and Tom Thomas 
w^ere enjoying a game of three-handed 
cribbage, and three churchwardens, their 
soothing influence assisted by that of a 
more potent stimulant than the sweetened 
juice of the elderberry, in which also Mrs. 
Harrison, seated by the fire, was indulging 
herself, every now and then, with a medi- 
tative sip, while luxuriating in that rare 
delight to a hard-worked matron of her 
class, complete idleness, and sniffing up the 



TIIK I.ON'f; LANE 195 

frajjjrance of hur wassail bctween-wliilcs. 
with placid cnjuyiuent. Mrs. Uoss felt sorry 
that her and Honor's entrance disturbed 
the worthy woman's content, by the 
necessity of rising to curtsey and wish 
them a merry Cliristmas. 

The siglit of the long low room, its 
glow and gladness, the children's voices 
and shrieks of laughter, the elder men and 
women's content, brought a new i)ang to 
Honor. So had she seen Christmas kept 
tliree years here, so she felt she would 
never see it again. She had not known 
how truly Trebarva had grown home to 
her, till now, wlien she must leave it. 

'Won't you i)lay. Miss Honor?' said 
Annie, coming uj) to her rather daringly. 

'Yes, Annie; what is ii ? Oranges and 
Lemons? but I'm so strong, I could j)ull 

o i> 



196 THE LONG LANE 

you all over at once. We must make Euth 
play too.' 

'I'm too old for such fooleries,' objected 
Mrs. Thomas. 

' So am I, Euth,' and Honor laughed ; 
' but we'll forget our age and have one 
merry Christmas more ; hold up your hands 
with mine ; now, children, you first, Annie, 
and Bill after you ; that's right ; now 
begin.' 

The strange relief of finding one can 
act a part to hide one's pain, possessed her, 
and her clear though untrained contralto 
led the time-honoured chant and chronicled 
the utterances of the bells and the mystic 
warning of the candle, to light them to 
bed, ending in the awful sentence of the 
chopper to chop off the last man's head, 
gaily enough. What was it, that made 



TIIK LOXCi LANK 197 

her wish so tensely tluit tliese cliildreirs 
pleasant memories oi' her last Cliristrnas at 
Trebai-va should hold some hint of her? 
There ^vas no need to wear her heart on 
her sleeve, or make other people dreary, 
because — oh, because! --She must not 
think of it now. Presently, when she was 
alone in the quietness and darkness, it 
would be her hour. 

In this very bitterness of love a new 
tenderness for others seemed to have 
awakened within her. She stayed and 
played witli tlie children, and at last, wlien 
they were tired, and gladly gathering 
round her at her proposal of a story, slie 
told them tlie one that liad come back to 
her as a chief delight of lier own cliildhood 
as first related to her by ^[rs. Koss and 
afterwards studied bv hcix'lf, in a certain 



198 THE LONG LAXE 

fat red volume — Andersen's ' Garden of 
Paradise.' 

The youngest of the Harrison children, 
a pretty, red-haired, grey-eyed mite of two, 
tired out with much playing, and careless 
of stories, had climbed on to Honor's 
lap, despite faint maternal remonstrances 
from Mrs. Harrison, now gossiping with 
Ruth, over the fire ; and so fell fast asleep 
in the girl's arms. Something in the trust- 
ing touch of the little hands, the nestling 
of the curly head against her breast, com- 
forted Honor oddly, soothing the inward 
pain which abided even now, as she told 
the story of the prince who, restored to 
Paradise, on the strong wings of the North 
Wind, boasting in his strength and warned 
to resist temptation, yet yielded and fell 
before the first whisper - of his desire : so 



TIIK LOX(i I.ANR 199 

woke to fiml liinisclf in tlio cavern of the 
winds, far from the garden and tlie fairy, 
who liad wept, even in her dream, for liim 
and his weakness. 

Tlie story touched lier more tlian it 
(lid tlie children, but her voice grew so 
passionate and sad as she told the end, 
liow Death promised yet to bear the weak, 
erring prince to Paradise if he endured to 
the end, that one of the children, who had 
been sitting, listening quiet, with intense 
eyes and parted lips, said disappointedly — 

' But it is such a sad story.' 

She had forgotten that, when she had 
begun, but, in the telling, she had found 
the words ' sadder than she thought they 
were,' and answered, more to herself than 
her audience — 

* Yes ; and the saddest of all was, that 



200 THE LONG LANE 

Death even could never take him to that 
Paradise and the fairy he had lost. He 
would never see them again ! ' 

'Never?' repeated Annie, as appeal- 
ing against Honor's statement. ' Never is 
such a dreadful word — in chapel,' with a 
vivid remembrance of many ' awakening ' 
sermons. 

' But was the other Paradise better ? ' 
questioned another auditor. 

' I don't know, Lizzie, but the prince 
did not think so.' 

' How do you know that. Miss Honor ?' 
asked the inquiring Annie. 

'Because it would have been no punish- 
ment to him else ; but that is enough of 
sad stories. Did you ever hear of the 
shoes that were danced to pieces ? ' 

No, no one had ; but the detailed 



THE LOXG LANE 201 

adventures of the poor soldier and the 
seven frisky princesses prcn^ed so enthral- 
ling, that Honor had to recall to her own 
memory another of Grimm's sugared in- 
ventions, and yet another, till these delights 
bowed before the stronger attraction of 
snapdragon, which, in the meanwhile, had 
been secretly prepared by Ruth in another 
room. 

' Mss Honor,' said Annie, at the end of 
the evening, ' I got my wish on the 
pudding. Did you ?' 

Honor started. ' Yes,' was all her 
answer. 

It was true, her Christmas wish had 
been fulfilled ; fulfilled so as to leave her 
])ut one desire more in life — to die with tlie 
dying year. 



202 THE LOXG LAXE 



CHAPTEE XXXIII. 

* There was but one right thing in the world to do, 
And I must do it.' Kingslet. 

It was all over, the Christmas fire burnt 
out, the children gone, and Honor was 
alone in her room, now flooded by the 
serene, cold light of the winter moon. 
Outside, the radiance glorified sea and 
sky and the snow- strewn heath ; and 
through the window, it fell full on the pale 
face, with its steadfastly set mouth, its eyes 
full of memories, tender and sweet and 
bitter — the memories which must be for- 
gotten from to-night, or they would make 
her mad. 



THE LOXG LAXE 203 

From the window, she could see the 
slope down tlie cliff, leading to her 
'garden' and the coastguard path, down 
which she had so often watched Stephen 
go, on those soft June nights. There was 
the cave where her boat used to be kept. 
Her heart went back to their struggle 
together against the merciless, pitiless sea ; 
again came the terrible, momentary yearn- 
ing. Would that the waves, at that 
moment, when love seemed no sin, h.nd 
risen yet higher, where they stood on that 
rock, his arms about her — risen to their hps 
and swept them away together, him and 
her, for evermore ! 

' Thick as roses in rose harvest,* 
thronged back to her the recollections of 
that summer-time which she must now 
forc^et. Yes, as Annie had said, 'never* 



204 THE LONG LAIs^E 

was a dreadful word, in chapel or out of 
chapel. 

There was only one comfort : it was 
Stephen who had bidden her do this ; his 
command obeyed for his sake. But what 
if this very obedience should make him 
think in the future, ' She cared little for 
me after all ' ? She trusted his love, 
strangely and hardly as it had dealt with 
her, but would he ever know how she had 
loved him ? 

She thought of tales of women-martyrs 
for love, who conquered their agony at the 
sight of the torture of their dearest, or 
hung gladly on the cross by his side, 
or bore severance, till life should end, 
rather than tarnish the brightness of 
one dear name, in the eyes of others. 
Gertrude van Wart, S. Maura Heloise. 



THE LOXG LANE 205 

Oh,' she sobbed, ' wliat was all they did 
to this ! ' 

And if — and if — she should never be 
any better than slie was now ; if this, which 
Stephen and the world held as her duty, 
should only drag her down? She knew 
what Stephen said about Rex Archdale was 
true ; he was kind-hearted and trustin<i, 
and forgiving her, would never reproach 
her with the past ; but, though lie was 
better than she, in many ways, she felt life 
with him might-^^^and most likely would — 
be death to the larger and higher life she- 
had grown to understand. She knelt down, 
and from her soul's pain, came with a 
child's simphcity, if with a woman's fervour, 
' Oh God, help me and teach me, for I hav(^ 
no one else ! ' 

She rose, and going to the landing, 



206 THE LONG LANE 

listened to the clatter below, which told 
that Euth, assisted by Annie, was still 
employed in clearing away the feast and 
putting the kitchen tidy. It would have 
been impossible to Euth to have slept 
with the sense that she had left this duty 
unfulfilled ; and, acting on her often ex- 
pressed maxim, that every day makes its 
own work, she was vigorously setting 
things straight for the morrow, when 
Honor's voice called out to her from 
above. 

Mrs. Thomas left the dish she had just 
washed to Annie to dry, not without a 
curt warning against clumsiness in general 
and dish-breaking as a particular instance 
thereof She found Honor standing at the 
head of the staircase. ' Is aught the matter, 
Miss Honor ? ' she asked nervously. 



THE LONG LAXE 207 

Her mind had misgiven lier all day, 
nor had Honor's unwonted endeavours to 
amuse the children reassured her in the 
least, any more than did her [)resent 
appearance in her long white wrapper, 
witli the richness of her hair loose around 
her pale, resolute face. 

' Nothing : I only want to know if you 
think I can get a carriage to-morrow from 
St. Osyth; 

' Of course you can't,' said Euth de- 
cisively. ' It's Boxing Day, and Dimsdale 
doesn't mean to run his onmibus ; but 
where are you going. Miss Honor ? ' with 
ap})arent indifference. 

' To Polmouth — to London.' 

London! a terrible fear seized Kuth. 
of which she yet felt ashamed before 
Honor's direct eyes. 



208 THE LONG LANE 

' Don't ! ' she exclaimed. ' Don't, my 
dear.' 

'Why?' 

Euth stammered horribly. ' Mrs. Har- 
rison told me Mr. Nugent came to Lynion 
last night — why hasn't he come here to see 
the mistress? — Oh, Miss Honor, forgive 
me — but I'm afeart ! ' 

A hot blush of anger swept over 
Honor's face ; she raised her head and 
looked full at the other woman, with an 
unspoken pride, which Euth felt as a 
rebuke. 

Yet her own soul smote her. What 
right had she to be angered by the sus- 
picion ? If Stephen had said ' Come,' would 
she not have gone ? 

Suddenly the truth flashed on her, 
bearing with it such bitterness of humili- 



THE LONG LAXE 209 

ation as should surely purge away her 
sin ; and her answer was grave and gentle. 

' I understand, but you need not be 
afraid. I must go, but I shall not meet or 
see Mr. Nugent.' 

' There's Tom Thomas sleeping here,' 
said Eutli hesitatingly ; ' he drove over in 
his hooded cart, and if you didn't mind 
that, Miss Honor, he'd take you to Pol- 
mouth with pleasure ; only he says he 
must leave early, and so, I suppose, you'd 
liave to wait the mail train at Polmouth 
till the evening.' 

' Thank you ; will you ask him to take 
me?' Honor turned away towards Mrs. 
Boss's room, and Hutli, longing, yet fearing, 
to ask more questions, left her. 

The girl j)auscd willi her hand on the 
latch of her friend's door, then laid lier 

VOL. II. P 



210 THE LONG LANE 

soft cheek gently against the panel, as it 
liad been Mary Koss's hand. 

' No,' she thought, ' it will be time 
enough for her to know to-morrow^ — let 
her sleep to-night I ' 



THE LONG LANE 211 



CHAPTER XXXIV. 

Gift ungotten, largess high, 

Of a frustrate will ; 
But to yield it lovingly 

Is a something still. — Phantastes. 

So it came to pass that, when Mrs. Ross 
descended on the morrow morning into 
the parlour, she was startled to find Honor 
in traveUing trim, her small black felt hat, 
large fur-Hned cloak and travelling bag 
lying on a chair, wliile she lierself, with 
dark circles round her eyes, and pallid lips, 
was busy, as usual, making the tea. 

* Honor ! ' 

She came to her friend very tenderly 
and kissed her, holding both Mrs. Ross's 
hands fast in her own. ' I thought it was 

r 2 



212 THE LONG LANE 

better not to tell you before, dear — I must 
leave you.' 

' Leave me ! ' 

* Yes. Oh, Mary, if you are not brave, I 
cannot be.' 

Mrs. Eoss was silent, struggling with 
herself; her instinct told her Honor's 
purpose. She had always vaguely feared 
this hour, yet now that the blow had fallen 
she could not pray against it. 

' I can't tell you anything,' Honor went 
on, in a low hurried voice ; ' perhaps 
I may come back ' — as a wild hope 
possessed her that, after all, Stephen might 
be wrong, and her husband refuse to 
receive her — 'but if I don't — oh, Mary, 
forgive me for leaving you here alone. I 
seem to bring misery to every one — I sup- 
pose because I never le^irnt to rule myself.' 



THE LONG LANE Zih 

' You were never tauL'lit. It wiis not 
your fiiult, poor child.' 

' I am punished for it ! ' was all Honor 
replied. 

' May I not go with you ? ' her friend 
pleaded gently. 

Honor shook her head. ' No, dear,' she 
said; then with a jarring laugh, '"this 
dismal scene I needs must act alone." ' 

The reality the quotation meant rushed 
upon her; she -was going back to Ilex 
Archdale to sue for his forgiveness. Her 
pride shrank from the idea, and she shud- 
dered ; yet what had she now to do witli 
])ride ? 

Her voice sounded, to Mrs. Eoss, like 
an echo of Marie Antoinette's ' Nothing 
can hurt me now.' Honor saw the pain of 
her friend's face, and, by an elTurl, endea- 



214 THE LOIi^G LANE 

voured to reassure her. ' Don't be wretched, 
Mary,' she said, striving to appear cheerful. 
' One thing I am sure of : we will not be 
parted for long, even if — if — I don't come 
back.' 

' Ah, don't make plans, my child ! ' — 
involuntarily Mrs. Eoss's lips quivered and 
her tears broke forth. As Honor knelt to 
soothe her, the elder woman's arm clasped 
her, as though they could hold her back 
from the fate which drew her away from 
her refuge. Honor tried to speak, but all 
she could say was, ' You have been so 
good to me, so good, all these years ! ' 

In came Euth, laden with the breakfast, 
and wearing the stern, set face and curt 
manner which, with her, denoted trouble. 

'It's not half an hour, ma'am, before 
Tom Thomas '11 have to start, and Miss 



Tin: L()X(i LAXK 21 o 

Honor will need to eat sometliin;i l)efore a 
twenty miles drive.' 

Thus admonislied, Mrs. Ross and Honor 
sat down to the table, but, despite Ruth's 
warnin;^, the meal was a miserable farce. 
Honor drank a cup of tea, that her example 
mi^iht help Mrs. Ross to do the same, then 
came round to her and, sitting by her 
silently, took and held her hand. So they 
waited listening for the sound of wheels, 
wdiich would tell them their parting had 
come. 

At last Honor rose. ' I hear it,' she 
said : ' good-bye ! ' 

Mrs. Ross nerved herself as dreading 
Honor might resent her action, tlien w^ent 
to an old bureau and unlocked one of the 
many cunningly-planned drawers. 

Without a word, she lield out to 



216 THE LONG LANE 

Honor something which shone in the pale 
sickly light of the winter sun, struggling 
through the snowy sky — Honor's wedding 
ring. 

She took it silently and drew it on her 
finger, then turned to Mrs. Eoss and clung 
to her once more, as though imploring 
pardon for leaving her. 

It was over ; she was in the hooded 
cart, being driven away from Trebarva, by 
the side of Tom Thomas, a stout Cornish- 
man, ruddy and of a cheerful countenance, 
but, fortunately for Honor, blest with a 
remarkable talent for silence — so that, for 
the last time, uninterrupted, the girl could 
gaze her fill on the scenes amidst which 
she had lived for the last three years, and 
which had grown so dear — how dear, she 
had not known till now. « 



THE LONG LANE 21' 



CHAPTER XXXV. 

Duties are ours; events are God's. — Matthew HEJfRr. 

It was not till tlie Cornish train was near- 
ing London, that tlie question faced Honor, 
wliere to find Ivex. Her old habit of 
acting on impulse had guided lier through 
tlie last few days, with its old iorgetfulness 
of results ; then she remembered the words 
in Nugent's voice — ' at his old rooms in 
Jermyn Street.' 

She recalled tlie number easily enougli ; 
during those strange confused weeks of 
her short engagement to Archdale, she 
had often addressed letters there, thanking 
him for trinkets or flowers. 



218 THE LONG LANE 

She was very tired ; the long hours 
spent in the train had been almost as 
sleepless as those of the preceding night, 
and her pale face, with the purple rims 
round the heavy eyes, was very wan, 
almost haggard. It was not thus Eex 
Archdale remembered his wife, not thus 
Nugent had first seen her coming towards 
him in the May sunshine, fair as May her- 
self. 

And now this meeting with her hus- 
band, which she dreaded so much, was 
near ! She would not think of it till she 
found herself face to face with him, lest 
her courage should fail. How strange 
London seemed, with its tall, seemingly 
roofless houses closing in the lowering sky, 
its myriad noises, after those three years 



THE LONG LANE 219 

spent amidst tlie strength of tlie clifTs, the 
sound of tlie sea ! 

The cab drew up in Jermyn Street, and 
she ahglited, but as she rang the bell, her 
heart's beat seemed to sicken and cease, 
with the suspense and fear. 

'Mr. Archdale?' no; he was out of town, 
and — did she w^ant to see him specially ? 
asked the boy in buttons, with a curious 
stare, ' because ' 

' Who's that inquiring about poor Mr. 
Archdale, Jim ? ' called out a voice from a 
room within, and forth issued the landlady, 
who looked at Honor, half doubting, half 
recognisant ; then exclaimed, ' Mrs. Arch- 
dale, ma'am ?' 

Honor was startled. ' Yes — how do 
you know me ? ' 



220 THE LONG LANE 

I saw you married, ma'am, that's how 
— but Mr. Archdale, poor gentleman ' — she 
hesitated. 

' What has happened ? ' asked Honor, 
the twice apphed epithet striking her 
painfully. 

' Will you come in here to my room ? ' 

The landlady's tone was respectful, yet 
implied a certain doubt as to how far Eex 
Archdale 's well or ill being concerned his 
wife. Honor had learned to realise the 
facts of life more clearly than of yore, and 
knew what the doubt meant. She entered 
the room, followed by the landlady, and, 
turning round, faced her fully. 

' I have a right to know what has 
happened to my husband.' How strange 
the word sounded to her ears ! 

It hurt her pride to have to explain, 



THE LOX(; LAXi: 221 

even so vaguely ; her manner was more than 
words, and Mrs. Synionds' brow cleared. 

' I beg your pardon, ma'am ; but I never 
rightly understood' — Honor winced secretly 
— ' and I'm sure your coming just now is 
a special providence, all the more that the 
poor gentleman seems to have none else 
belonging to him.' 

' What is it ? What do you mean ? I> 
Mr. Archdale ill ? ' 

The landlady looked frightened. ' I'm 
afraid so, ma'am. Mr. Capper, his man. 
sent me this telegram this morning; and 
when you came, I was just that upset, 1 
didn't know what to do ; and when he had 
only just settled, poor dear, so comfortable 
into his rooms again.' 

She had handed the slip of pink paper 
to Honor, who read : ' From J. Caj^per, Red 



222 THE LONG LANE 

Lion Inn, near Leamington, to Mrs. 
Symonds, 300 Jermyn Street. 

' Mr. Arclidale thrown yesterday, badly 
hurt, horse rolled on him. Sir J. Gibson 
telegraphed to : will write.' 

' He's always very friendly-like, is Mr. 
Capper,' murmured Mrs. Symonds some- 
what complacently, as Honor stared at the 
telegram, then made as to move towards 
the door, muttering, ' I must go to him 
at once.' 

But as she made a step forward, she 
reeled ; her head swam, and she would 
have fallen and fainted if Mrs. Symonds 
had not caught her. 

The landlady did not know whence her 
guest had come, but her quick eye caught 
the unrested, weary look, the dulness of 
the rich hair, the languor and pallor of 



THE LONG LANE 228 

the face, as the hds closed over the tired 
eyes, and her hiigering doubt and suspicion 
melted away in real woman kindliness and 
concern. 

* You don't go till you're rested and 
refreshed, ma'am, and have had some tea. 
Now that's right, be a dear, ma'am, and 
sensible, or you'll be no use when you get 
to poor Mr. Archdale and find him getting 
better, as you will,' said Mrs. Symonds. 
with an airy conlidence whicli would have 
been more reassuring had it been built 
on any reasonable basis. ' Why, if you 
don't take care, hell have to be nursing 
you. There, he down ; that's right.' 

Honor was too utterly worn out to 
rebist, as- Mrs. Symonds hiid her on tla* 
])rickly horsehair sofa of this, Ikt own 
pecuhar sanctum, unloosened lier cloak. 



224 THE LONG LANE 

removed her hat, and then bustled off to 
have tea prepared. Something in the 
girl's brave yet nervous gaze attracted 
the hard-working, energetic woman. ' And 
I fancied she must have turned out a bad 
lot,' she muttered. ' Who'd have thought 
she'd have felt it so ? I wonder how it all 
came about ? ' 

She took as much care of her visitor as 
she would have done of a sick child ; and 
the rest and refreshment, with plentiful 
ablutions of cold water, restored Honor 
somewhat to her usual self, ere she drove 
off again to the Paddington Station she 
had so recently quitted, to catch an after- 
noon train for Leamington. 

She had taken her ticket, and was 
moving off in order to let the gentleman 
behind her procure his, when she caught 



Tin: LON(; lane 22'J 

sight of his face. For an instant she was 
puzzled, then recognised Sir Jolin Gibson, 
the great surgeon, a personal friend of her 
father's, whom Agnes had cultivated, and 
who had been a guest at Honor's wed- 
ding. 

He recognised her at once witli his 
quick glance. 'Miss Denne — I beg your 
pardon — Mrs. Archdale. Good heavens ! ' 
— as part of the truth broke upon him — 
' It's not your husband to whom I am 
going down now ? ' 

'Yes. Oh, Sir Jolin ! is he — will he — 
die ? ' 

The surgeon turned round, saw the pale 
countenance, with its look of miserable, 
anxious remorse ; he took her hands as to 
calm her, and answered — 

'Die? no. my d<'ni\ I liope not ; but 

Vol,. II. (i 



226 THE LONG LANE 

the telegram I had tells me very httle ; you 
must keep a good heart.' 

^ But if — if he is very ill, may I see 
him P ' 

The bell rang, and Sir John hurried 
Honor on to the platform and into an 
empty carriage, and followed her himself. 

He began to remember something he 
had heard of Honor's marriage not turning 
out happily ; but poor Eex had been right 
in boasting that he had kept his wife's 
name from ever being breathed on, and Sir 
John's voice was very gentle as he an- 
swered her : 

' It all depends. May I take a liberty 
' as an old man and your father's friend ? ' 

A faint movement of her head gave 
assent. 

' Your husband doesn't expect you ? 



Tin: i.oxG LAXK 227 

Tliere h:\s bueii some inismulor.itandiii^i 
between you ? ' 

*Yes. It was all my fault.' 

' Never mind that. Whosesoever fault 
it was, he mustn't be excited ; and were he 
conscious, it would most decidedly agitate 
him to see you, whom he doesn't expect — 
whether pleasantly or the reverse. If he 
is unconscious, it is a difierent matter.' 

'Oh, he must forgive me ! ' was Honor's 
inward cry. Itex well and angered against 
lier, perhaps bitter, even insulting, was the 
liusband she was })repared to meet, and a 
terror to her; but liex ill, dependent on 
strangers, awoke only ])\^y. If he should 
die! — unr^i-asonably, madly, his wife felt his 
death would in some way be her work. A 
heavy sigh escaped her, and Sir John laid 
his hand on hers. 

'2 



228 THE LONG LAXE 

' Don't be so downcast, my child. Please 
God, we'll pull him through, and you can 
make it up comfortably.' 

He never forgot his companion's look, 
though he could not comprehend it. Had 
Nuoent been there, he would have under- 
Stood how the vista of the ' long, long road 
of pain ' she must tread, filled Honor's 
inward vision. Sir John tried to banish her 
expression by ignoring it. 

' Papers ! ' he exclaimed. ' Of course ; I 
liaven't read the Times yet, and you will 
like the World and Fmicli — seen his 
Almanack? No? Here they all are,- 
then.' 

He piled the seat next to ^ her with 
papers ; then, as the train moved off, 
opened his Times ^ and was soon engrossed 
therein, fancying rightly that she would 



TIIK Lose, LAXK 229 

rather be left quiet. It was a Iohl'' tiiiu* 
before lie looked up from behind its wide 
sheet; when he did, the day was drawiiiir 
in, as tlie train ruslied across the snow-chid 
country with glimpses of the sluggish river, 
of the long, dim shadows of trees and 
hedges cast on the lonely whiteness, and 
the rifted orange streaks of a sullen sunset 
smouldering in the west. 

Honor had fallen asleep ; her two 
wakeful nights had their revenge, and now 
slumber had come ; it was deep, albeit she 
now and then moved with a little shiver as 
if cold. 

Sir John unfastened the neatly strapped- 
up rug his footman had placed in the 
carriage, and threw it over her ; then re- 
turned to his jiaper, while Honor slept 
on. 



2o0 THE LONG LAXE 

And in her sleep she dreamed ; 
dreamed, as Nugent had done, of Cornwall, 
and, as she had guided his thought, so her 
dream was of him. 

Not of his presence tliough. She was 
alone, straying as he had stra3^ed, the night 
that led him to Trebarva, alone and lost on 
that dark waste of moor under a moonless 
lieaven. There was no storm, only one of 
tliose clinging, ghostly mists veiling both 
moor and sky, and through it slie heard 
Stephen's voice calling, Honor! Honor! 
Honor ! ' 

Yet, though she followed, slie could 
never reach him where that cry came from 
through the shrouding dimness. Again 
the voice sounded — far-off, faint, implor- 
ino' : ' Honor ! Honor ! ' Then her foot 



TllK LONG LANE 231 

felt nothinir, -she had slipped over the 
clifT's edi/e ; was lalling, fallinir, while from 
above, she still heard his voice yearning 
for her tln'oiiLrh the mist. 



232 THE LOXG LAXE 



CHAPTEE XXXVI. 

To one deep chamber, shut from sound and due 
To languid limbs and sickness. — The Princess. 

HoxoR woke with a jar and a crash ; the 
hghts of the station at which they had 
stopped dazing her sleep-bewildered eyes, 
and the cry of ' L'raington, L'mington,' 
sounding in her ears. For a moment she 
liad forgotten the present ; bat it all came 
back as Sir John Gibson helped her out 
and collected his and her belongings. A 
young fellow, who had been awaiting the 
train, came up to them, as at first certain 
of the great surgeon's identity, but rather 
})uzzled on finding him accompanied by a 



TIIK LONG I.ANH 233 

young lady. ' Sir John Gibson ? ' said the 
young man hesitatingly — he had a frank, 
j)leasant face and manner — ' my name's 
Ilunsdon.' 

' It was you who telegraphed to me, 
then ? ' 

' Yes ; I was with poor Arclidale when 
tlie brute fell with him. I never saw a 
man come such a beastly cropper, and 
when they took him up ' young Iluns- 
don shuddered slightly. 

Ilis voice and look made Honor feel 
cold. They told the wliole ghasthness of 
the hideous, crushing fall of man and 
horse. Sir Jolin saw her blench, and 
turned to Jicr, saying to Ilunsdon, ' Don't 
frighten Mrs. Arcluhde, we all know that a 
fall isn't a pretty thing to see.* 

The lad's deep (lush could be seen even 



2?) 4c THE LOXG LAXE 

under tlie gaslight as he Hfted liis hat. 
' I beg your pardon,' he stammered. ' I 
didn't know ' — ' Archdale was married,' 
lie was neaidy saying, but changed it to — 
' where you were staying, Mrs. Archdale, 
or I should have wired. The carriage 
is outside ; will you and Sir John get 
in?' 

A minute or two more, and they were 
all three seated in the close, comfortable 
carriage that was waiting outside, rather to 
Sir John's amazement ; but the young man 
explained as they drove swiftly along the 
frosty road out of the town. 

' You see,' he said, ' my people made 
no end of a row that we didn't bring 
Archdale back home ; but he was so 

shat so much hurt, that we thought 

the nearer the better, and the " Eed Lion " 



Tin: LO.\(j LAXi: 235 

was c]()<c at liaiid. It's a nice, conifoi'tal'le 
old house, and we've jjot tlie two men who 
were staying tliere to turn out, ior W-nv 
the)' slioidd make a noise. It isn't i'ar 
from our place eitlier, and I've been able 
to make myself head nurse and look after 
things. His man Capper is a good fellow 
enough, hut has no head. ]\[y mother got a 
first-rate nurse at once, and Dr. l^urnet has 
been there three times to-day. He is Avait- 
ing tliere for you now, Sir Jolm. I got 
your telegram to say you would come by 
this train ; so he stayed there.' 

' Is he conscious? ' asked Sir John. 

'Who? Archdale ? '— the lad glanced 
nervously at II(^nor, tlien reflected that 
Sir John, as he asked a question, probably 
intended it to be answered. * No ; you 
couldn't expect it, you know,' he added 



236 THE LONG LANE 

extenuatingly : ' Dr. Burnet says it's con- 
cussion of the brain, and all the rest of 

it; 

Honor said nothing ; she sat with her 
hands clasped on her lap. Young Hunsdon, 
facing her, thought it must be all right, 
since she had come down here with Sir 
John, but what a queer start it was ! The 
beautiful, weary face, so girlish still, for 
all its pallor and fatigue, impressed him 
strongly ; and, as he gave Sir John a brief 
account of how Eex had come by his 
accident, he looked nervously, from time 
to time, at Mrs. Archdale, as fearing to 
alarm her. 

The carriage stopped at the door of the 
'Eed Lion,' an old-fashioned country inn, 
the warm light from its windows falling 
redly on the snow outside. When Sir 



Till-: LOXfJ LANE 237 

Jolin liad gone upstairs to liis ])ationt, with 
])r. I^iinu't, Honor and Yal llunsdon stood 
together in the one private sitting-room of 
the inn. 

' I suppose you would ratlier be liere 
witli liex, Mrs. Andidale,' tlie young man 
said : ' but if you would come u]) to us 
and stay there, I know my mother would 
be so glad.' 

He felt a boy's chivalry and longing to 
help this girl, so beautiful and lonely in her 
trouble. 

'Thank you, but I couldn't — I must be 
here.' 

' T feci as though it were all my fault,' 
said llunsdon, witli tliat imjx'llcd need of 
confession wliich urges many jx'ople to 
avow their involuntary or unrecognised 
sliarc in a catastroplie. * You know when 



238 THE LONG LAXE 

we asked him to come clown liere, I told 
hira we could mount him, and my father 
had settled for him to have Prince Edward, 
when I happened, by ill-luck, that first 
night, to mention Diana, a vicious brute, 
though a beauty to look at, whom we none 
of us could ride — and nothing would satisfy 
Archdale but he must try her. It was no 
use to say anything,' Hunsdon went on ; 
' and when I saw them go down, the mare 

on the top of him, over that bank ! ' he 

turned away as he spoke, a choke in his 
voice. ' There's one comfort,' he added 
vindictively : ' the brute was so damaged, 
she liad to be shot herself.' 

' Poor thing ! ' was Honor's dreary 
comment. 

' She did her best to kill every one 
who mounted her, that's all I know,' said 



Till-: LON(i LAN'S 2P.0 

Iluiisdoii, ;i.s rallicr rc^LMiting IImikus 
])ity. * I bej^' your j)ardon, Mi\<. Arcluiak*, 
I ouglitn't to jzo on talkin«^" about it to you. 
Won't you ccjnie nearer the fire? ^'<>u 
must be so cold.' 

He ])u.shed uj) a deep-seated, stifT, old- 
fashioned arm-chair, as he spoke, towards 
the fire, and Honor mechanically accepted 
his invitation, holding out lier hands to the 
blaze, as stiiving, througli them, to feel 
warm and sentient again : but it was her 
brain and heart seemed frozen ; the lire- 
warmth could not pierce or melt their 
cold. 

So they w^aited, till the two doctors 
came downstairs together, and Jr^ir John 
spoke to Uonor. 

* Dr. Burnet will let you see him, n.y 
dear, if you wish it ; but he won't know 



240 THE LONG LANE 

you, and you must not try to make him do 
so. Be a brave girl, whatever comes to 
pass ; he will need all your nursing.* 

She rose silently and followed Dr. 
Burnet up to her husband's room. 

Was that Eex — that strange, white 
face against the pillow, with the dreadful, 
wide eyes, seeing nothing, understanding 
nothing ? The face was unscarred ; there 
was no mark, but one deep purple bruise 
on the forehead ; all the evil was worked 
on the shattered form, hidden by the sheets. 
So it was she once more met her husband, 
face to face. 

At a sign from the doctor, she drew 
nearer the bed and stood b}- its side, her 
gaze fixed on that mute, immovable 
countenance. A new well-spring of pity, 
suddenly Avarm and tender, gushed up 



THE LONCi LANE 241 

within her ; melting the ice of lier own 
frozen misery into liuinan pain and an- 
guish, at the sight of the young man 
she remembered glad and proud in his 
strength. 

She forgot herself; the prayer for hi> 
life arose within her, unbidden and unre- 
sisted. It was hard to identify the wan, 
motionless figure before her witli tlie man 
to whom her feeling had been that of an 
unwilling slave. It was easy, how easy, to 
yield him such tenderness and service as he 
needed now ! 

Meanwhile, downstairs — 

' Are you going up to London to-night, 
Sir John ? ' asked Val Ilunsdon, as the 
surgeon stood by the fire, witli knitted 
brows. ' If so, you'll let me take you to 
the station, or will you come uj) and liave 

VOL. H. K 



242 THE LONG LANE 

some dinner with lis? There's a room 
ready, if you can sleep there.' 

' Thanks, no ; I must catch the 7.15. I 
can't do anything here ; Dr. Burnet under- 
stands the case thoroughly. But I'm 
afraid,' he added, drawing on his gloves, 
' we are, none of us, much use.' 
' Do you think — he will die ? ' 
' While there's hfe, there's hope — 
hardly a hope worth having, though, for a 
man like him ; such a fine young fellow, too ! ' 
' What do you mean, Sir John ? ' 
' In any case, he will never be able to 
walk again. Don't let that poor girl, his 
wife, know — I don't think, though, there's 
much chance of it, he is hardly hkely to 
last the night— but if he live, her life will 
have to be devoted to a hopeless invahd 
and cripple.' 



THE LOXG LANE 



CHAPTER XXXVn. 

But what to me, my love, but what to me ? 

Loves Labour Lost. 

' Stephen, is this true ? ' 

It was a bright clear afternoon in 
January. Mrs. Strahan sprang up to meet 
lier brother, as he entered her drawing- 
room, a decided shadow of anxiety on her 
clear brow. 

' What, Essie ? ' 

' Oh, you know what I mean ! Isabel 
has just been here.' 

' And she told you of my plans. I am 
sorry, Essie. I wanted to tell you myself, 
only I waited till it was all settled — not to 
worry you.' 

R 3 



244 THE LONG LANE 

He was standing on the hearth- rug, his 
sister by him, and, as he spoke, he took her 
hand and held it closely. He knew how 
she would feel this abrupt discovery that 
he was about to leave England, though, 
with a man's horror of scenes, he had 
withheld the news from her as long as 
possible. 

He felt now he had wronged her in so 
doing, that he might have trusted her 
courage, and that her long, faithful, tender 
affection had deserved more confidence 
from him. 

' But why are you going ? ' she asked, a 
suspicious quiver in her voice. 

' You ought to be able to tell me,' he 
retorted, trying to speak hghtly, ' as you 
were the first to put the idea in my 
head.' 



THE LONG LANE 245 

' "But I never tliouglit you would do it, 
and I wish to Heaven I had lield my 
tongue ! It is wretched, and, as you said, 
money-grubbing is contemptible.' 

'I don't think I ever said that,' returned 
Nugent; 'anyhow, I Avonder how you 
would like it if Geoff acted on that genteel 
principle ? ' 

' Oh, don't laugh, I can't bear it ! ' 
' I won't, dear ; ' and he held the little 
hand yet closer. ' If I could see anything 
else to suit me I would take it ; but I 
don't.' 

One of those sudden intuitions wliich 
come to most women flashed on Esther 
now. She remembered how changed she 
had found her brother on her return from 
abroad, and how her instinct understood 
the cause. A soft pity for Steplien's un- 



246 THE LONG LANE 

known trouble brought tlie tears to her 
eyes. 

' But your painting ? ' she asked. 

He sighed — a regretful sigh. 'It is no 
good,' he answered ; ' I stood self-convicted 
the other day when I all at once reahsed 
how bad it was. If I haven't cared for it 
enough to work harder than I have done 
these last ten years, it is not my work ; 
besides, it would keep me here.' 

' And you want to leave England.' 

There was no questioning in her voice, 
only a sad assurance. Her brother turned 
to her with a quick rehance on her com- 
prehension and sympathy, although he told 
her nothing of how this last year had 
wrought with his life, 

' Yes, I must go. If only I hadn't to 
leave you, little woman, and Geoff! ' 



THE LONG LAXE 247 

' I wish I could help j'ou.' 

' You have helped me, Essie ; all iny 
life.' 

They were silent for a while, but their 
musings were interrupted by a ring at the 
front door, and the subsequent appearance 
of a young man, an acquaintance both of 
the Strahans and of Nugent. 

' I thought you were down in War- 
wickshire, Coke,' said Nugent after their 
greeting. 

' I only came up yesterday. — No, thank 
you, Mrs. Strahan, I never take tea now. 
Wasn't it horrible, by the way, that smash 
of poor Archdale's ? ' 

' Archdale's ? what do you mean ? ' 

' Didn't you see it ? ' said Essie. ' It 
was in the papers a fortnight ago. — How is 
he, Mr. Coke ? ' 



248 THE LONG LANE 

' I saw nothing.' Nugent spoke so 
roughly that both his sister and friend 
stared. ' How did it liappen — when ? ' 

' Nearly three weeks ago, out hunting. 
They didn't think he could pull through 
at first, now they say he may ; but he'll 
never be good for anything except a wheel- 
chair.' 

' Oh,' said Esther, with a little sob, 
' how dreadful ! ' 

'It cut up every one there awfully. 
Hunsdon, who saw him go down, and 
helped to get him from under the horse, 
can't speak of it now.' 

' And is no one with him ? ' asked Mrs. 
Strahan. 

' Oh yes, his wife.' 

Nugent said nothing : this Wcis the 



TlIK LON(J LAXR 240 

answer to liis ])assi()nate unspoken question, 
his aching constant wonder as to how she 
fared. This was to be liis last tliought of 
her, which he must bear with him beyond 
the sea. 

He never fathomed the depths of liis 
mind that first instant when he heard of 
Archdale's state ; could never say if for 
one moment a base and guilty hope had 
reared its head within him. ' Is thy ser- 
vant a dog, that he should do this thing?' 
that another's death should seem his gain? 
If such a thoujjjht Avas there, lurkinj:? 
unknown to himself, in another instant his 
j)ity and old friendship crushed it dead, 
never to rise again. 

' Ah, God help her ! ' the prayer wliicli 
had so often risen to his lips, was his heart's 



250 THE LONG LAXE 

cry now, sobbing in a sad litany whenever 
he thought of Honor, who was with her 
husband. 

A month later and he was standing on 
the deck of the steamer in the redness 
of the sunset dying afar beyond Mount's 
Bay, and looking out towards the Cornish 
coast he had known with her. 

He fancied he could discern tlie point 
where he and she had struggled against the 
waves — yes, that was Lynion ; even in the 
gathering darkness of the brief February 
day he could tell the headland. 

And suddenly a turn in the line of the 
coast showed him Trebarva, its vacant 
windows flashing back the sunset as of old, 
and the jutting-out crags on whose brows 
Honor and he had last met. That rift in 



THE LONG LANE 251 

tlie clifT must be her garden — waste and 
lonely for evermore. 

He turned and left the deck ; this Avas 
his last sight of England ; a dreain and 
memory of Honor to liold through the 
years. 



252 THE LOXG LANE 



CHAPTER XXXVIII. 

Raise thy disconsolate brows — 
And front with level eyelids the to-come 
And all the dark of the world. — Drama of Exile. 

Meanwhile Honor watched by her hus- 
band's sick bed ; unwearied and gentle, and 
learning many new letters in that strange 
alphabet of life some of us have hardly 
conned, far less learned to spell with, 
before death comes. 

In those lonely night watches, those 
long, long days sitting beside that uncon- 
scious form on the bed, it slowly came to 
her that loyalty, to be true, must be alive, 
not dead ; quickening spirit and thought. 
While each thought, each wish, each 



THE LONG LANE 2'j6 

action still owned Stephen as its master, 
she was wronging the man wlio lay there 
before her ; and if she had wronged him in 
the past, what reparation could she make 
now? Each thought of Nugent must be 
resisted as it arose. 

Then would come back the old a<^onis- 
ing temptation ; the longing for one day 
of free, glad, innocent life and love, the 
thought that made her hands close over 
l)row and eyes in a misery of shame. For 
shame had come to her now, a new and 
bitter word, hard to hear or to echo. She 
had loved Nugent, she loved him still, and 
it was wrong — wrong, even if they were 
severed for ever ; wrong in tlie face of that 
vow of hers, once so little regarded, so 
recklessly broken, but pledged to the man 
beside her, before God and man. 



254 THE LONG LAXE 

Yet gradually there awoke within lier 
a tenderness for Eex Archdale ; a tender- 
ness born of the sense of her failing in duty 
towards him, her longing to atone, her 
sense of powerlessness for good before the 
piteousness of that strong young life laid 
low. 

At last there came a day when the 
glimmer of consciousness returned to Eex's 
eyes, when his lips moved feebly and 
faintly ; and at a sign from the doctor 
Honor rose and left the room. 

But the sick man's brain, though still 
vague and wandering, retained the vision of 
her presence, and some time after he asked 
the nurse — 

' Where is she ? ' 

' Who, sir ? ' 

' My wife. She was here ; I want her.' 



TIIK LONG LAXE 1-)'J 

He seemed to take Honor's appearance 
as in the natural course of events ; and when 
she returned to liis bedside, she heard the 
feeble words, * It was good of you to come 
— how did you liear ? ' 

' You must not talk,' slie said, pity and 
self-rej)roach risnig within her. 

' I fell,' he vaguely murmured. * How 
long ago? Don't leave me again.' 

He seemed asleep and silent for a while, 
tlien the words came faintly through the 
twihght : ' Kiss me, Norah.' 

For a moment she paused, then stooped 
and laid her cool lips, dewy fresh, to his 
forehead, a seal of her self-renunciation — 
for life. He was still afterwards, and when 
the heavy regular breathing told that sleep 
had come to him, the cold winter moon 
saw a figure kneeling by the beJ, not pray- 



256 THE LONG LANE 

ing, yet feeling calmly and thankfully that 
now the bitterness of death was past. 

' Winter crept aged from the hills,' and 
Spring came ; pale primroses shone like 
stars among the ivy carpets of the woods 
and the grass tangle of the hedge-banks ; 
the larch tassels flushed pink with Spring, 
and the larks soared and fluttered and sang 
ever higher in the blue ; while Eex drew 
back to life, and to the terrible knowledge 
of his shattered hmbs, his maimed existence. 

It was not till late in the Spring he 
learnt the whole trutli ; but for some time 
a suspicion of the real state of his case had 
been growing on him ; although Honor, 
being warned by the doctor, had been 
very careful not to give him any reason to 
think liis recovery would not be complete 
in time. 



THE LONG LANE 257 

Init Iiex's instinct divined wliat all 
dreaded to tell him, and he determined 
quietly to ascertain the truth. 

Honor was sitting one April morniiiir in 
her husband's room, writing two or three 
letters at his dictation. It was an exquisite 
spring day, and the open window looked 
out on an orchard which was one mass of 
blossom, even to the turf below, whicli was 
white with fallen petals; and a* wise thrush' 
was sinfrincr close to the window. Honor 
finished her letter and stopped to hsten to 
the bird's song. This calm pastoral country 
of green fields and liawthorn hedges, with 
the great elm trees throwing long shadows 
on the meadow grass, seemed confmod and 
tame after the free land of clill" and scar 
and heather, the thunder of the great 
Atlantic waves, and the sea-birds* cries ; 

VOL. II. S 



258 THE LONG LANE 

and yet the peaceful, tender beauty of 
Shakespeare's country soothed her more 
than she herself knew. 

' When did Burnet say I might be 
moved ? ' Eex asked from his bed. 

She rose and came to his side. 'In 
two or three weeks,' she answered. ' Have 
you been thinking where we shall go ? ' 

He smiled and stretched out a hand far 
thinner and whiter than Honor's own. ' It 
is pleasant to hear the word "we,"' he said; 
' I didn't know how lonely I used to feel. 
Make up your mind for us as to the move.' 

' I know so few places,' she said, ' and 
I don't think you strong enough yet for a 
long journey.' 

' Not quite,' he answered half sarcastic- 
ally. She looked at him nervously, as 
if afraid of his having realised his helpless- 



THE LONG LAXE 259 

ness. Eex understood, but said nothing ; 
and, at that moment, there was a sound 
of well-known wheels stopping below in 
front of the inn. ' There are the Huns- 
dons,' said Kex. * Go down to tlienu 
Norah, and make lluusdon come up liere if 
he is with them ; will you ? ' 

Honor obej^ed ; and in a few minutes 
reappeared laden with a huge basket of 
primroses, and followed by young Hunsdon. 

' Mrs. Hunsdon has brought you these, 
Eex,' she said, setting down her burden of 
pale blossoms gently, as if she loved tliem. 
as in truth she did. 

* And the mother wants Mrs. Archdale 
just to go for a drive with her,' put in 
Hunsdon. 'It's such a lovely morning, 
and I'll stay and take care of you, old 
fellow, in case you want anything.' 

s 2 



260 THE LONG LANE 

' I would rather not,' began Honor, but 
was promptly stopped by Eex. 

'It is just what she needs,' he said 
determinedly. 'Be off and put on your 
things, Norah ; unless you want to see 
me in a rage. — Ah, Hunsdon, I see the 
end of the " Pink 'Un " sticking out of 
your pocket ! Give it me, that's a good 
boy.' 

Thus urged Honor departed, ard the 
sound of the retreating wheels of Mrs. 
Hunsdon's carriage was soon audible in 
the quiet room above. ' You can smoke, 
you know, Hunsdon, if you like. Burne': 
said this morning I might have a cigarette 
myself.' 

' Have it now, then,' said Hunsdon, pro- 
ducing his case and lights. 

For a little while after there was 



THE LONG LANE 201 

silence. Rex was absorbed in liis paper 
and tlie enjoyment of tlie luxury of 
smoking, from which he had been so long 
debarred. Ilunsdon was standing by the 
window, looking out, with hands in coat 
})Ockets and cigarette in mouth. Presently 
the rustling as of tlie laying down of the 
paper caused him to turn. 'Anything I 
can do for you, old fellow ? ' 

' Yes ; come here.' Archdale fixed his 
eyes firmly on his friend. ' I tell you what 
I want — the truth about myself.' 

Hunsdon looked startled. 

' Xow look here, my boy, don't be 
frightened of telling me ; for poor Norah's 
eyes have made me guess it the last three 
weeks. Burnet always dodges me when I 
want to ask him, and I rely on you. 
But ' the lad bc<^an to wish he had not 



262 THE LOIS^G LANE 

volunteered to keep Archdale company 
that morning. 

' They will all blow me up if I let out 
the truth,' he reflected. ' I'd lie like fun, 
only I don't believe it would be any good ; 
he'd spot it at once.' 

' It won't hurt me,' said Eex ; ' but 
look here, I shall never be able to ride 
again, I suppose ? ' 

The lad was silent, his chest heaved, 
then a big sob burst from him. ' Don't, 
don't ask me,' he gasped. ' How can I 
tell?' 

Archdale's face grew still paler. ' Is it 
worse than that ? ' he said. ' Great God ! 
you don't mean I shall never walk? — be 
a log on men's hands for ever ? ' 

He had dragged himself up in the bed 
by sheer force of nerve, and was staring 



THE LONG LAXE 263 

hopelessly, appealingly at Ilimsdon as for 
mercy. Tlie young fellow strove to 
answer, but could not. 

' I see ! ' muttered Hex, sinking back ; 
' for Heaven's sake don't speak to me ! 
Leave me ; it's all you can do for me 
now.' 

And wlien Honor returned she was met 
by Ilunsdon with pale lips and scared 
eyes. 

' Go to him, Mrs. Archdale,' he said 
hurriedly. ' He was questioning me, and I 
let out — I was wrong, but lie made me 
— that he would never be able to walk 
again.' 

'You told him!' She sped upstairs, a 
quick sick alarm within her of the evil 
effects the sudden breaking of sucli news 
might have had on Rex, still so weak. On*^ 



264 THE LONG LANE 

look at liim showed he knew the utter hope- 
lessness of his case ; and yet he was quiet ; 
there was even a faint attempt to speak 
lightly in his voice. 

' It's a bad job, Norah, isn't it ? ' 

She had dreaded the burst of misery 
which she had thought must come ; but this 
was worse ! Her lips moved dumbly in 
assent. His courage struck her with a 
sharp remorse, as his thin hand stretched 
out weakly to receive hers ; strong, supple, 
beautiful, resting near him on the bed. 

' You must help me to make the best of 
it, that is all. Will you be as good to me 
as you have been all this while ? ' 

Her hand closed on his, her head 
drooped, she could not speak. 

' So we will kiss and be friends,' said 
poor Eex, a wan smile on his lips, ' and 



THE LON'(; LANK 2G5 

never speak of the past; but it will be a 
wretched life for you, j)()()r child ! ' 

' Not if you can be happy.' The words 
came impulsively and sadly ; then, ' For- 
give me,' she said very quietly ; and with a 
new quick emotion Kex answered — 

' God bless you, wife ! ' 

And in that blessing her soul found 
rest. 



266 THE LOXG LANE 



CHAPTER XXXIX. 

Je n'aime que ce qu'ont aime les meilleurs des 
homines •, je ne cherche rien aux depens d'aucun d'eux ; je 
cberche ce que chacun peut avoir, ce qui est necessaire au 
besoin de tous, ce qui finirait leurs miseres, ce qui rapproche, 
unit, console ; je ne veux que la vie des peuples bons — ma 
paix dans la paix de tons. — Senaxcour. 

' Honor ! Norah ! I say — liere ! ' 

Honor, seven years older, standing on 
the terrace of the villa near San Miniato 
she and her husband had taken for the 
winter, turned round. Her hands were 
full of early flowers which she had been 
gathering this fresh, sweet February morn- 
ing ; waxen narcissuses ; anemones, faintly 
flushed with dawn-tints, or deep-hued w4th 
intense passionate purple, paling and faint- 



TIIK LOXG LANK 207 

ing from the dusky velvet heart outward 
into tenderest amethyst ; violets, sweet 
witli tlie dews of the vouiilt year. She 
was leaning on the stonework of the 
terrace, soft with brown moss, looking 
down on tlie darkness of the cypresses 
and tlie olive orchards and vineyards 
below, severed by high stone walls trailed 
over by sere capsicum vines ; beyond 
lay the town like a fairy city, all red, 
gold, brown, and ivory-wliite, fdling the 
vale beneath and spreading out on the 
mountain side, with the Arno in the midst, 
winding like a thin, shining snake under 
its many bridges ; while dominating all, 
rose tlie Duomo and Giotto's tower, ae- 
rial, slender, lovely ; ' a vision, a delight, 
and a desire;' Florence's lily turned to 
stone, rising in the clear, tinted, delicate 



268 THE LONG LANE 

air, and thrown out by the mountains 
beyond, whose heights of soft purple- 
brown and green were dappled above with 
snow. 

fto Honor had been dreaming in the 
tender sunlight of the winter morning, 
when her brother Leo's voice broke in on 
the stillness. 

She could scarcely have told from what 
fancies the boy's clear call had startled her, 
or what vao-ue memories of the town which 
Jay below her feet, had stirred her heart 
, — not 'with the sound of a trumpet,' but 
rather with the mingled echoes of many 
notes, from many instruments and voices— 
a great human symphony, faintly heard 
frjom afar, of hate and love, grief and joy, 
passion and despair and pain — and with 
religion and art, two great calm melodies, 



THE LOXO LAXF. 269 

blending all into one lianiioiiy. Slie heard 
the echo, of ' old unhappy far-off things 
and battles long ago,' mingled witli other 
sounds ; the low moan, wliicli must have 
told Savonarola's baptism of fire was accom- 
plished; the liglit, sweet laugh of the ladies 
who stole away from plague and horror 
and deatli, to fair gardens and streamlets, 
and the story-telHng whicli should win all 
ages and all lands to share in their })lea- 
sure ; and above all, the woman's heart 
hstened to one voice, never heard in 
Florence, save as the low, dove-sweet tones 
of a girl ; but sounding — through Heaven's 
glory, as through Purgatory's pain — wani- 
ing, reproach, divine tenderness, to lier 
lover and to us for evermore : ' lo son, 
ben son Beatrice' 

And so it was witli a start, Ilonor 



270 THE LONG LANE 

answered Lionel's call. ' What is it, Leo ? 
Here I am.' 

A heedless crash through the thick 
plantation bordering the turf; a rather 
sharp exclamation, regarding an aloe 
Master Lionel had caught at, in the effort 
to save himself from being tripped up by 
the leafless branches of a vine which 
strayed across the narrow path he had 
taken — and the young gentleman appeared, 
somewhat heated and breathless, by his 
sister's side. 

He ought by rights to have been at 
Harrow, but scarlet fever had broken out 
in his house there, at the beginning of the 
January term, and Lionel being sent home, 
and being very much in everybody's way 
there. Lady Field had only too thankfully 
accepted Honor's suggestion that he should 



TIIK LONG LAXK 271 

come out to Florence, on a visit to her and 
Hex, till he could return to school. He 
was used to spending a large part of his 
usual holidays with the Archdales, to the 
great relief of Agnes and her husband, 
who both found a boy of fourteen a great 
nuisance about the house ; their own two 
children being both girls, now aged eight 
and nine and blessed with a sweet placidity 
of disposition and an entire want of animal 
spirits, which rendered them ideal children 
to a mother whose chief desire in life was 
the calm comfort resulting from undis- 
turbed self-gratification and an approving 
conscience. 

The Archdales generally spent the 
winter in Italy or the south of France, 
one of the results of Ilex's accident beinsr 
the bending of one of his ribs on tht* left 



272 THE LONG LANE 

lung, necessitating a clear air through the 
cold months ; at the same time, this year, 
the doctor said he needed bracing ; and, 
after some deliberation, at the end of 
October, Honor and her husband had 
established themselves in the villa, in the 
garden of which she was musing when 
Leo interrupted her, with two or three 
letters in his hand. 

She had never forgotten or broken 
the promise she had made; and Eex, 
though sometimes impatient or exacting 
when pain troubled him, or the memory 
of his lost health and strength racked 
him — as it would even now, with a 
worse anguish than any bodily ache — 
yet held his wife always, with a love min- 
gled with gratitude for the unselfish, gentle 
tendance which had never fainted nor 



THE LONG LANE 273 

wearied, in cariiiL' for l»iin, these seven 
years. 

' Here, Rex asked me to bring out these 
letters to you ; thoy liavc just come, and he 
says, if you don't mind, we'll drive into 
Florence this morning, to get some mort* 
cartridge-paper and cardboard at Good- 
ban's. We've used all we had, and we 
can't get on.' 

' You are sure you didn't propose the 
idea, Leo ? I thought Eex would scarcely 
be up to a drive this morning. Can't you 
really get on .^ ' 

* It's a beastly bother ! ' responded her 
brother, balancing himself on the balus- 
trade and tilting himself as far back as he 
could possibly go, in order to poke lazily 
on the other side, with a bit of stick, at ii 
torpid green lizard, who, deceived by the 

VOL. II. T 



274 THE LONG LANE 

sunshine, into tlie idea that it was summer, 
had crept from his home in a crevice of 
the wall, and who was rueing his mistake. 
' I don't know what we are to do ; Eex 
hasn't any, and it will be no end of a sell 
if the whole thing is corpsed, just for a 
sheet of cartridge-paper.' 

' You know I hate that word, Leo. 

'Well, it will be corpsed, won't it?' 
said the young gentleman, viciously knock- 
ing the unoffending lizard with a jerk on 
to the grass below, as though to empha- 
sise his words. ' What do you call it ? And 
now that we've asked all that small fry of 
Elliotts and Boyles to come up and see the 
play, I shall feel an awful fool if it's not 
ready, that's all.' 

' I don't mind,' said Honor ; ' if Eex 
feels equal to the drive, it is all right. I 



THE LONG LAXE 275 

was just going in to liini, but we will go 
and order the carriage first. 

Tliis business accomplished, they turned 
in tlirougli tlie piazza, wliere, by a table, 
sat a ligure in a wheel-chair, as intent as 
Leo himself on the present great object 
of their two lives — the production of 
'The Miller and his Men ' grand romantic 
drama, as adapted to Webb's scenes and 
characters, in a small toy theatre, osten- 
sibly for the delight of some English chil- 
dren living in Florence, but really for their 
own amusement, albeit Lionel loftily dis 
claimed any aim in it except to 'please the 
kids.' His brother-in-law was less magni- 
ficent ; the enforced monotony of his hfe 
enabled him to feel a real interest and 
excitement in the careful ])rej)aration and 
j)roduction of tlie mimic dramas, and his 

T 2 



276 THE LOXG LANE 

fingers had grown wonderfully dexterous in 
the management and manipulation of all 
manner of such contrivances as miniature 
traps, tricks, &c. ' The Corsican Brothers ' 
had been already produced with immense 
success, a blaze of blue fire, and the ghost 
melody played on the violin behind the 
scenes, by a young Itahan whom the 
Archdales knew ; and ' The Miller and his 
Men' was now in active preparation, as 
was shown by the large table by which 
Eex sat, which was strewn with scenes of 
the most flaring colouring and bold per- 
spective, penknives, scissors, a cigar-box 
cut into slips of brown wood, a bottle of 
liquid glue, and miniature paper figures, 
of sentimental or ferocious aspect. Eex 
looked up eagerly as his wife and Leo 
entered . 



TiiK Loxo laxf: J.tl 

* oil, here you are ! ' lie said ; * I just 
wanted to show you I've managed it at 
last: tliis trick works all right now. I'll 
sliow you on the table. Where's GrindofT 
with the pistols? That's he, the beggar in 
the long slide over there; just hand him 
here, will you, Leo ? and the book. Where's 
the scene ? Oh, here. '' Draw ofl' GrindofI* 
lighting, and put on Orindofl' rushing over 
practical drawbridge — plate 4 — pull up 
drawbridge after him " — there I it's done.' 

' A 1 ! ' exclaimed Leo, who had watched 
the rehearsal of the drama's most thrilling 
eflect with breathless interest, and then 
tested it by working the trick himself 

' There is the carriage,' said Honor. 

' Hallo ! ' remarked Leo, ' I must wash 
my hands ; they are all over glue.' 

lie da>]ic(l oil', and. a-- he left the rnoni, 



278 THE LONG LANE 

a sharp sound escaped Eex. * What is it, 
dear ? ' Honor asked gently. 

' It's only I'm a fool. I suppose Leo's 
talk put it in my head. I dreamed all 
night I was playing football. I don't sup- 
pose I should if I could at my age. But 
in the dream ! You don't know what it 
seemed like, Norah, or what I'd give to 
have it true only for once.' 

It is seldom a woman sympathises with 
a passion for football — the keen joy of a 
rough physical struggle, grip and tug, 
sway and rush ; but in Honor's nature 
there was some strain undeveloped, yet 
akin to such dehghts, which made her 
understand the terrible tense longing in 
Eex's tone, and her sympathy was so quick 
she could not answer him, except by that 
pity of her eyes which was the reply he 



THE LOXti LANE 270 

liked best. 'Here's Leo/ lie said, after a 
moment's pause, ' coming downstairs like a 
young earthquake. Call Capper to get me 
into the carriage, will you ? Never mind, 
Norali, Fni riLdit enough.' 

They drove down the slope of the hill, 
where tlie light breeze milled the olive 
trees from dark to grey, and here and 
there an anemone shone, like a drop of 
blood, crimson or purple against the moss- 
grown, time-stained stones of the walls, to 
where the city lay ' washed in the morning 
water gold.' 

That strange life of an historic city, the 
past murmur of whose swift tide had 
tilled Honor's thought tliis morning, the 
life ' which living not can ne'er be dead,' 
had little significance or interest to either 
of her coiiipaniuns ; but to her herse*lf the 



280 THE LOXG LANE 

widening sympathies which each year 
brought gave an ever fresher and sadder 
charm to each rehc which bound past and 
present together, and made Hfe in Florence 
wear for her the charm of a legend. Even 
now, as they drove through the Porta 
Eomana, a dream of dead days filled her 
eyes, and her husband laughed. 

'What are you "in a referee" over.^' he 
asked. ' I know when you look like that 
3^ou would like to be mooning about in a 
picture gallery, or some church, before a 
battered-nosed monument, or cracked pic- 
ture. Isn't it so ? ' 

' I can't make out what people find to 
care for in such things,' observed Leo 
sapiently. 

' Neither can I, but Nor ah can. Never 
mind, Leo ; while she's catching her death 



THE LOXG LANE 281 

in the way she Hkes, 3-011 and I will enjoy 
ourselves at Doney's.* 

' It's too cold lor ices,' said Honor. 

'Then we'll order chocolate; hnt if it's 
too cold for ices it's too cold for cliurches. 
They are enouLdi to freeze one's blood. 
Never mind, what's yonr " particnlar 
wanity" in that line this niorninL^ ? Leo 
and I can get the cartridge-paper without 
your help; so we'll drop you first where 
you will, and then go to Goodhan's and 
the confectioner's.' 

'But suppose I w^ant some macaroons 
too ? ' remonstrated Honor. 

'We'll get you a hagi'ul, and y(ni can 
eat them on the way hack and sp(.il your 
teeth. Now, where do you want to go? ' 

'St. Lorenzo, then,' said Honor. She 
had a longing for tlie new sacristy — the 



282 THE LONG LANE 

soft gloom of which she loved perhaps 
better than aught else in Florence — and 
was glad to gratify it. 

' Poor girl ! ' said Eex, when they had 
left her at the church. * One reason I'm 
glad to have you, Leo, is that it gives her a 
httle liberty. She hardly leaves me when 
we are alone, and never wants to do any- 
thing for her own pleasure.' 

' She's a brick ! ' said Leo. ' But then, 
Eex, she's so fond of you.' 

'I don't know why,' his companion 
simply answered ; whereunto the boy re- 
sponded as simply — 

' Because you are her husband, of 
course.' 

A shadow passed over the man's brow 
which Leo did not understand. 

' Cause and effect don't always hang 



TIIK LONG LANE 283 

together in such cases/ he said, a httle 
bitterly; llicn with a cliange of tone, 'I 
>vish, thouL^i, I could get her to think 
rather more about herself. When poor 
Mrs. Koss was with us she and I managed 
it between us sometimes, ^he would per- 
suade Ilonor that I should like to hear 
about any party or some play I wanted her 
to see, and she would stay with me ; so we 
used to take Mrs. Norah in now and then. 
But now that the dear old lady's dead — 
and Honor felt her loss awfully — T can't 
manage her as well. Why, even Mrs. 
Eoss's living with us was my doing ; Norah 
never suggested it. I guessed she would 
like it, and that Mrs. Ross would be a help 
to her, so wrote secn-tly to ask her to 
come.* 

' I say, Kex ! ' 



284 THE LONG LANE 

' Well ? ' 

' How did you learn to think of other 
people ? ' 

' It's a precious hard lesson, old chap ; 
I hope you'll never have to learn it, as I 
had, by remembering what a bother you 
must be anyhow.' 

' Oh, Eex, not to Honor ! ' 

' God bless her, no. She has never 
let me feel it. And yet sometimes — ' his 
voice sank — ' I think it would have been 
better if I had died, and she had not been 
tied to a log ! ' 

' I wish you wouldn't talk like that ! ' 
exclaimed the boy impetuously: 'you 
know, as well as I do, that it isn't true, and 
that you don't believe it, and Nor ah would 
hate your saying it.' 

Eex's face lighted up at the quick. 



TIIK LOXG LANE 



285 



unasked assurance of tlie lad's afrec:tion. 
* Thank you, Leo,' lie said, lliinkin<r how 
like he looked to his sister when thus ex- 
cited, and how unlike his mother. 

Meanwhile Honor had entered the great 
church and slowly turned into the cliapel. 
She felt a longing for the sadness and 
mystery and beauty of those great niunu- 
ments ; Angelo's mighty effort to explain, 
if not to answer, the question of the Sphinx 
of life : to solve the riddle of the painful 
earth which leaves the mystery deeper 
than before. Was this the end? a dawn 
as sad as death ; a day waking in Titanic 
'throes, terrible as those of birth, to labour 
which shall not satisfy, which shall leave 
the world as strangely perplexed and dnn 
as ever; and above all, those calm, sad 
faces, noble and dj-eaniing and i)ure, the 



286 THE LONG LANE 

idealised images of those two of a bad 
race, whom death removed in youth, with 
blameless scutcheons ; ere their families' 
bitter story of force and fraud and guile 
had been written, perchance, on their 
shields likewise. 

Was this the truth of life? and if so, 
what of the aspect of Botticelli's Yenus in 
the Uffizi ? what of the majestic calm, 
Greek art taught us, 'when it ran and 
reached the goal' ? of the lovely serene mild- 
ness of the Madonnas, whereof this city 
of lilies seemed the natural home ? of those 
happy, sweet singing boys of Eobbia and 
Donatello, and of a thousand other lovely 
things which breathed divine, intangible 
life in this soft southern air — were all 
these true too ? 



THE LONG LAXE 287 

It troubled and perplexed her ; lier 
eyes fell again on the figure of Night, l)ut 
even sleep was sad. The words, so often 
quoted, and so often felt before that mighty 
form, came to her thoughts, almost to her 
lips : 

Giato m' e '1 sonno e piu 1' esser di sasso ; 
Mentre che il danno e la vergogna dura, 
Non veder, non sentir m* e gran ventura ; 

Pero non mi deatar ; deb, parla basso 

There was another solitary pilgrim to 
this shrine of Michael Angelo's vast mourn- 
ful aspiration and fathomless melancholy, 
whose steps, falling on the marble of the 
pavement, startling the echoes close to her, 
made her involuntarily turn nnind. 

For a moment she paused bewildered, 
wondering if tliis were truth ; and so it was. 



288 THE LONG LANE 

with tlie shadow of that passionate, un- 
answered questioning of hfe still lingering 
in her gaze, that she and Stephen Nugent 
met again. 



Till-: LOXd- LANE 289 



CHAPTER XL. 

— It loses what it lived for, 

And eternally must lose it. 
Better ends may be in prospect, 

Deeper blisses (if you choose it), 
But this life's end and this love bliss 

Have been lost here. Doubt you whether 
This she fell as, looking at me, 

Mine and her souls rushed together? — Cristina. 

TiiEY ])otli stood silent, wlio could say witli 
what memories thronging and surging uj) 
in them, even as his footsteps had startled 
the echoes around ? and then their hands 
met and clasped. 

Each saw cliange in tlie other, but lie 
noted the most in her ; for although liis hair 
was touched with grey, his skin browner, 
liis foreliead hned, Uunor saw still the 

VOL. II. U 



21)0 THE LONG LANE 

old face, only finer, stronger, gentler than 
of yore, and with an energy and resolve 
that had not once been there. 

To him, the woman standing there 
v^as fairer than the girl to whose garment 
his hps had so madly clung in parting ; 
the promise of her beauty was fulfilled, 
but its very completeness was sad. It 
lield no promise and no hope. This was 
not the eager, wayward, passionate girl he 
had left, but a woman who had learnt in 
patience to possess her soul. 

' You ! ' he said at last. 

' Yes, we are spending the winter here.' 

Nugent could have laughed aloud ; the 
' we ' forced the sense of the present upon 
him. This was how they met — they two 
who had parted seven years since, soul 
speaking to soul. He had even less right 



thl: L()X(i LA.M-: 201 

now to reiiK'Hiber tlian yhe liad ; and yet 
— was she so changed, indeed ? and wliy 
did liis heart aclie madly for one word of 
that past — of liis (U,*ad youth — I'ven while 
he felt it were best, far best, not recalled l" 

Was it seven years ago? As he gazed at 
her, the old Honor shone out from her face 
and Florence faded away. They two wore 
alone once more on the livid, brown moor 
by the wintry sea, with the low snowy sky 
above them, brooding in sullen quietude. 
It was her voice, low and vibrating as of 
old, that dispelled the vision : 

' Are you staying here in Florence ? ' 
' My brother is dead,' he said mechanic- 
ally — ' you ■ know that — I am on my 
way to England. I landed at Naples, and 
could not help a day or two in Florence. 
I leave to-night.' 

U 2 



292 THE LOXG LANE 

He spoke rapidly, uneasily ; but the 
mere statement of facts seemed to bring 
back his present self. 

' Yes,' she answered vaguely — her gaze 
had returned to the 'Night' — steeped in her 
long oblivion of the world that maddens 
round her. 

' And Eex — is he here ? ' 

' Yes, he must be waiting for me now — 
will you come ? ' 

' I ! ' — he hesitated. 

' He knows you know me,' she answered 
quietly ; ' I told him long ago you were 
down at Lynion that summer, painting ; of 
course he knew you did not know my 
name.' 

It was like herself, the frank facing of 
the unspoken doubt ; yet Nugent under- 
stood that the memory of what those 



TIIH LONG LANE 293 

summer clays had meant to liiiii ami her, 
was a secret known to their two souls 
alone, sacred and sealed for evermore. 

Silently they walked together, from the 
chapel out to where, in the sunliLiht, which 
looked warmer than it was, was the car- 
riage, as Honor had foretold. 

' Why, Nugent, how did you come ?— 
Where ever did you pick him up, Norah ? ' 
exclaimed Rex, leaning over the carriage, 
in his excitement to welcome his friend. 
' My dear, dear old boy — how glad I am ! ' 

Nugent felt a certain load drop from 
him, now that at last the moment he had 
often thought of, when he should meet Hex 
as IIon{;r's husband, had come. True, his 
own life had so changed in the last seven 
years, was now so far removed from his old 
self, that there was no reason they should 



294 THE LOXG LAXE 

not meet as friends ; and in the confusion 
of greeting and Eex's delight, he found it 
impossible to resist Archdale's imperative 
command to him to get into the carriage 
with them and drive back home. ' Leav- 
ing to-night, are you ? All the more reason 
you should come with us now — we'll send 
you back when you will.' 

As once before, Stephen glanced at 
Honor for her sanction to the invitation ; 
she did not speak — he wondered if she too 
remembered that morning at Trebarva, 
when he besought leave to return — but he 
saw that no wish of hers withheld him. 

So they all drove back together. A keen 
throb of pity stirred Nugent's heart, when 
they had driven up the aloe-bordered path 
of the garden, with its shrubberies of myr- 
tle, oleander, and pomegranate, now bios- 



TIIK LONG LANE 205 

suiiiless and sad, and stopped before the 
small perron of tlie villa ; and he realised, 
as Hex was helped out, his utter disahle- 
nient. SoniethinL' like reven'uce touclied 
hiui, in his wonderment at the eheerful- 
ness of the man to whom the enjoyment 
of his bodily strength and health had been 
almost the sum of Hfe. 

Honor went upstairs to take off her 
bonnet and cloak, and the others turned 
into the sala. Nugent glanred round to see 
if there were any tokens of Honor's course 
of life, and his quick eye caught signs of 
interests that had been dormant in the girl 
he had known. A piece of embroidery, 
reminiscent of old Italian brocade, was half 
hanging from a large work receptacle, half 
basket, half bag, of plush; and the piano 
was strewn with some music, an odd 



296 THE LONG LANE 

mixture : a fugue of Bach's, Scharwenka's 
dances, their ' sad perplexed minors ' accord- 
ing oddly with the scores of ' Olivette,' 
' lolanthe,' and ' Falka,' which testified to 
Honor's ministering to the musical tastes of 
her husband and brother. Stephen did not 
see this, but he was amused to find that a 
little vellum-bound ' Yita Nuova ' — that 
book which some one said was written for 
lovers and the young, but whose charm to 
many of us is that when reading therein 
youth and love seem ours once more — with 
a sprig of myrtle marking the reader's 
place, lay side by side with the last shilling 
tale of horrors. 

' Jolly book that,' Leo remarked approv- 
ingly as Nugent took up the last-mentioned 
volume ; ' Norah reads it to us of an 
evening, when we are cutting out.' The 



THE LOXO LAXK 297 

young fienlkMiian had relumed to liLs avo- 
cations, and was vijiorously |)astin<z sheets 
of figures to the cardboard he had oi)- 
taincd. 

' WeVe gone in for tlieatrical manage- 
ment,' Eex exphained to Steplien ; 'and as 
the production of a grand revival of '' The 
Miller and his Men" is arranged for to- 
morrow night, and Leo is stage manager, 
he has no time to lose. Hallo, though, 
young lin, don't you be trying to cut out 
those bands of robbers drinking. I know 
your w^ay with them ; you'll be snipping 
tlirough all their legs — you'd much better 
leave them to Xorah. She's the only one 
who can manage them. She's musical 
director,' Rex continued to his friend, ' and 
I'm the boss of the show. Now, Stej)hen, 
draw u[) your chair to the fire — thank 



298 THE LONG LANE 

goodness it's an open one ! here's a cigar — 
and tell me all about yourself.' 

' There's not much to tell,' said Nugent ; 
' I suppose I have done with India for 
good. Poor George's death leaves me the 
only person who can take the chief direc- 
tion of the bank ; so I had to return. 
When his boy is of age, we shall be 
nominally on equal terms ; but George, I 
fancy, had even less faith in the lad's busi- 
ness head and inclination than he used to 
have in mine.' 

' And I suppose you will put up for 
Parliament and be no end of a swed ? ' said 
Eex, some sadness in his tone. 

' I doubt the swelldom, but perhaps I 
shall try to get into the House. There are 
some things I have learnt to know about, 
in India, which need setting right. I may 



THE LOX(J I.ANi: 200 

as well try to do it, for want of a better 
man.' 

There was a new j)ur|)ose, ener</y, 
nnil)ition in liis voice. ' '' We know what we 
are, but we know not what we niav l)e," * 
he added, with a lauLdi which yet held 
a regret for tlie delicious, purposeless, 
purposing leisure of youth and its ]K)ssi- 
bilities now for ever gone. JUit Ilex 
looked at him with envy. 

' True enough,' he answered, ' whoever 
said it. If I had been a clever fellow like 
you, or even fond of books and things like 
that, I sometimes fancy this mightn't have 
come so hard on me ; but, as it is, I have 
to get interested in wliatever I can, and go 
back and |)lay with toys, even.' He took 
up a little j)apt'r figun^ from th(^ tabic near 
him, and threw it down with a l)itter lauixh. 



300 THE LOXG LANE 

' I oughtn't to complain, though,' he said, 
' I suppose, when I think of Honor. 
Stephen ! ' — his voice sank, and he glanced 
round to see that Lionel was out of earshot 
— ' do you remember the last talk we had, 
the week before my spill ? ' 

Yes — Stephen remembered. 

' I didn't know then, what the girl I 
was talking about, was. She came to me, 
nursed me, saved me. I should never have 
pulled through, but for her. I can never 
be what I should to her ; the protecting 
and cherishing I promised, she gives to me, 
but she has been the best wife ever man 
knew, and ' 

Eex broke off. A hand was on the 
lock, and Honor entered the room. 

The short afternoon glowed and waned. 
Eex, absorbed and happy in his friend's 



Tin: LONG LANE 301 

society, took little apparent heed of his 
wife; and when, after a dinner, earlier 
than usual, on Nugent\s account, she left 
them to their coffee and cigarettes, he 
nodded and only said, * Don't forget 
Nujzent is off in half an hour ; come in to 
speed liim away.' 

She assented, and opening the French 
windows, stepped out into the garden. The 
air was calm : sunset had not yet come, 
but a mist was rising in the valley beyond 
the town, veiling the far-off mountains, as 
the present veils the past till one feels as if 
it had never been real — the joy and j)ain 
thereof never one's own. Even so, gazing at 
those distant dream-like hills, it seemed liard 
to believe mortal feet had ever trodden the 
paths of their chill, ghostly heights. 

She strolled slowly through the 



302 THE LONG LANE 

gardens, so void of summer's delight, or 
even of spring's promise. The faint smell 
from the violet-bed was the only reminder 
of the. time that had passed, that would 
come to the world again, when 

Time would bring on summer, 
When briars shall have leaves as well as thorns, 
And be as sweet as sharp. 

Again she stopped to gather their dim 
blossoms, resting them against the strength 
of a myrtle spray, the darkness of a brown- 
veined ivy-leaf, and fastened them in the 
belt of her dress ; as she lifted her eyes she 
saw Nugent coming to her from the house. 
She stood silent, still, till he reached her. 

' Are you going ? ' she said. 

' Yes.' He halted ; then continued, ' I 
wanted to — to tell you how sorry I was for 
you, when I heard of Mrs. Boss's death.' 



THE LONG LANE 303 

Even now slic could scarcely bear the 
sudden mention of her friend's dear name ; 
but from him it was less pain. ' 1 knew 
you would be,' she said ; and her fornuM' 
self was in the answer. 

' And her book, I saw it appeared ! 
Was it successful ? ' 

' I think so, in a way. People did not 
agree about it ; but I suppose they meant 
praise, when they said it was not like a 
woman's work. It was odd though, for it 
was only being a woman made her write it.' 

They had drifted back into the remem- 
brance of their past. Impetuously he 
exclaimed — 

' And you ! ' 

She turned and looked in his face. ' I 
have wanted to thank you,' she said, ' all 
these years.' 



304 THE LONG LANE 

To her, her words were simple triitli ; 
to the man, they sounded subtlest, albeit 
unintentional, irony, and an echo of irony 
was in his voice as he answered, ' I am 
glad you are happy ! ' 

If she felt the bitter tone, she showed 
no consciousness thereof, only returned — 

' You made me do right, and I found it 
was right. It was all tlirougli you.' 

Through him ! Then a memory, a 
hope, a love, to wliich, for a moment, he 
had felt hardly true, revived within to his 
shame. He wanted to tell her ; but how ? 

' I often wondered ' he said ; then 

a sudden passionate earnestness over- 
came him : 'Oh, Honor, believe I tried to 
know what was best for you ; and you 
alone ! ' 

She did not appear to note the bursting 



THE LONG LAXK ?j0^t 

fortli from his lips of lier name, tliat naim* 
whicli tliose lips had once made dear and 
lovely to her. Ikit her smile answered 
him, and in it he read her natnre more 
clearly than he had ever done before ; 
read in its sweet triumj)hant assurance of 
her faith in him, the siLni of her loyaltv. 
As she was loyal to her husband, not only 
in word and act, but in thouLdit and 
feeling, so was she loyal to the memory of 
her Love and her trust in his truth. 

He, Stephen Nugent, standing there, 
had no power to make the blood within 
her veins flow quicker, her eyes shine, her 
voice grow softer — such possibility of 
sin as had lain within the old love was 
conquered and slain; harndess benea'h 
her feet, as the dragoji beneath St. Mar- 
garet's — but the memory of the love which 

VOL. n. X 



o06 THE LONG LANE 

had wrought mightily within her was with 
her, and would remain with her, hallowed 
for evermore. 

' I wanted to tell you ' he paused, 

hesitated ; then said, ' I am going to be 
married/ 

A minute's silence ; he did not look at 
her, but like an answer through the even- 
ing hush came the soft, distinct notes of the 
Angelus from the convent, each sound 
falhng on Stephen's heart as the throb of a 
woman's subdued passion ; then he heard 
Honor's voice, ardent, sweet as of yore. 

' I am glad.' 

The hand was stretched out to meet 
his as in the pledge of friendship he had 
asked so long ago. 

' Will you tell me about her ? ' she 
asked gently. 



THE LONC; LANE HOT 

*ncr name is Margaret Vigors,' Ik- 
answered. * She is very good and lovely. 
When I first knew her I thought .she was 
— Hke you.' 

A strange tender pleasure shone for 
one moment from the eyes of the woman 
he had loved ; but he did not see it, and 
went on : 

'She is coming home witli lier father in 
a month or two, when he gets his leave ; 
then we shall be married.' 

He had told her all ; once more their 
gaze met truly, loyally, and her words as 
she repeated them, ' I am glad,' were at 
once a benediction and a prayer. 

Would Stephen rather she had been 
less calm? a feeling akin to self-reproach 
and remorse swept over him. He was 
much older than she ; yet before him were 



no 8 THE LONG LANE 

love, ambition, success, life still worth 
Laving, its prizes yet within his grasp ; 
while she ! — had this, indeed, been the 
right path for the girl he had loved, to 
wliom he had shown it and said, ' Walk 
therein, although it severs us for ever- 
more ' ? 

The sense of the injustice, the contrast 
!)etween their lots, smote him so sharply 
that it made him speak bitterly, from 
feeling the insufficiency of Honor's life to 
fill her heart and soul. A man never 
doubts his own power to satisfy every need 
of the woman he loves ; but without him, 
she must fain find the whole world too 
narrow. 

'After all,' he said, 'we learn one 
thing from life : hearts are not so easily 



THE LONG LANK 309 

broken, or lives lai'l waste, as we onc«j 
used to think.' 

'I don't know!' She paiised and 
looked far away at tlie Arno, <:olden in 
the sufiused evening light, with tiie hhick 
bridges spanning it ; tlie great dome, ruddy 
and splendid, witli tlie campanile by it< 
side, rising slender and grey against the 
mist and forecast purple shadows of the 
]u<»untains beyond. 

•I never understood,' she said, 'Our 
I.ord's words, '' He that loseth his life shall 
tind it." It must mean in another world. 
Here — if we cannot take our own life, -<» 
turn away from it — we find other pcnj)lt''- 
lives ; our own again — never ! ' 

•Forgive me!' There were some mo- 
ments before his words came. 



310 THE LONG LANE 

' It was you saved us both,' she said. 
'I wanted you to know that I know it 
now.' 

Neither spoke more ; in silence, to- 
gether they turned and walked to the 
house. 

'Good-bye!' 

It was Nugent spoke, as he extended 
his hand to Honor, where she stood by her 
husband's chair, in the piazza. He knew 
her words were true ; she had found 
others' lives and lived content in them, 
having renounced her own ; and thus he 
bade her farewell. 

As he turned, he saw her once more 
where she stood ; the mingled lights of 
sunset and moonrise falling faintly on 
her, chequering her white gown and the 



THK LONG LANK 311 

marble at lier It'ct with fantastic sliadows, 
hut full and tender on her steadfast eyes, 
and rotating like an aureule round her 
brows. So he saw her face last — as it 
were the face of an angel. 



THE END. 



O ScC 
raiNTRD 1 . 

in. .\. I.; VXD CO., NKW-HTREtT BICARB 

ujyvon 



:3)u^u^